Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective 2016
Chapter A
The output of educational institutions and the impact of learning

A1 Educational attainment of the adult population

Context

This indicator provides a profile of the educational attainment of the adult population aged 25 to 64; that is, the percentage of that population that has successfully completed a certain level of education. For this international indicator, educational attainment reflects the highest level of education completed, based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) categories.Note 1 As all subsequent indicators are examined by educational attainment within this international structure, this opening indicator, A1, sets the stage with an overview of the situation in Canada, including a breakdown of attainment by sex to reveal any gender differences. Information on generational differences reflects the shifts in educational attainment over time. Overall trends are also presented. This portrait of educational attainment places Canada and its provinces and territories in an international context.

Education helps give individuals the tools they need to participate in social and economic life and is key to the social and economic well-being of a country. As a large number of people in the 25-to-64 age range will have completed their formal education, this indicator provides some information on the skills and knowledge of this segment of the population, the core segment active in the labour market. Overall, the educational attainment of all individuals in the working-age population influences the competitiveness of economies and the prosperity of societies. Variations in attainment over time reflect differences in access to education, and indicate the evolution of knowledge available in the working-age population.

The distribution of educational attainment across Canada should not be considered an exact reflection of any educational system’s output because many other factors come into play; for example, differences in labour market and economic situations, in the relative magnitude of international and inter-jurisdictional migrations, and the overall mobility of students and workers.

Observations

Educational attainment in Canada

CHART A.1.1, Distribution of the 25- to 64-year-old population, by highest level of education attained, Canada, provinces and territories, 2015

Data table for Chart A.1.1
Data table for Chart A.1.1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.1.1 ITA, FRA, GRB, DEU, USA, OECD, CAN, N.L., P.E.I., N.S., N.B., Que., Ont., Man., Sask., Alta., B.C., Y.T., N.W.T. and Nvt., calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  ITA FRA GBR DEU USA OECD CAN N.L. P.E.I. N.S. N.B. Que. Ont. Man. Sask. Alta. B.C. Y.T. N.W.T. Nvt.
percent
Below upper secondary
40 23 21 13 10 22 10 15 12 11 13 12 8 11 11 9 7 9 17 46
Upper secondary
42 44 36 48 45 40 24 22 26 22 28 19 25 29 30 27 28 22 23 14
Postsecondary non-tertiary
1 0 0 11 0 5 11 21 9 14 9 17 5 9 17 13 11 12 13 9
Short cycle tertiary
0 15 10 1 11 8 26 24 29 26 30 24 29 23 19 22 23 26 23 17
Bachelor's, master's or doctoral or equivalent
18 19 33 27 34 28 30 18 24 27 20 27 33 27 24 29 31 30 23 15

Gender differences, Canada and OECD

CHART A.1.2, Distribution of the 25- to 64-year-old population, by highest level of education attained and sex, Canada, 2015

Data table for Chart A.1.2
Data table for Chart A.1.2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.1.2. The information is grouped by Highest level of Education attained (appearing as row headers), Men and Women, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Highest level of Education attained Men Women
percent
Below upper secondary 11 8
Upper secondary 25 23
Postsecondary non-tertiary 15 7
Short cycle tertiary
22 29
Bachelor's or equivalent 18 22
Master's, doctoral or equivalent 9 10

Tertiary attainment

CHART A.1.3, Proportions of the 25- to 64-year-old population with college and university attainment, 2015

Data table for Chart A.1.3
Data table for Chart A.1.3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.1.3. The information is grouped by Canada, provinces, territories and OECD (appearing as row headers), Bachelor's, master's or doctoral or equivalent and Short cycle tertiary, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Canada, provinces, territories and OECD Bachelor's, master's or doctoral or equivalent Short cycle tertiary
percent
OECD 28 8
CAN 30 26
N.L. 18 24
P.E.I. 24 29
N.S. 27 26
N.B. 20 30
Que. 27 24
Ont. 33 29
Man. 27 23
Sask. 24 19
Alta. 29 22
B.C. 31 23
Y.T. 30 26
N.W.T. 23 23
Nvt. 15 17

Generational differences in tertiary attainment

CHART A.1.4, Proportions of the populations aged 25 to 34 and 55 to 64 that have attained tertiary education, 2015

Data table for Chart A.1.4
Data table for Chart A.1.4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.1.4 25 to 34 and 55-64, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  25 to 34 55 to 64
percent
JPN 60 38
ITA 25 12
FRA 45 22
DEU 30 26
GBR 49 35
USA 47 41
OECD 42 26
CAN 59 46
N.L. 52 32
P.E.I. 62 44
N.S. 63 42
N.B. 60 37
Que. 55 40
Ont. 67 52
Man. 52 44
Sask. 46 35
Alta. 53 43
B.C. 55 46
Y.T. 57 53
N.W.T. 46 40
Nvt. 27 40

Trends in attainment levels

CHART A.1.5, Proportions of the 25- to 34-year-old population with tertiary education, 2005 and 2015

Data table for Chart A.1.5
Data table for Chart A.1.5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.1.5 2005 and 2015, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  2005 2015
percent
JPN 53 60
ITA 16 25
FRA 40 45
DEU 22 30
GBR 35 49
USA 39 47
OECD 32 42
CAN 54 59
N.L. 43 52
P.E.I. 57 62
N.S. 52 63
N.B. 50 60
Que. 55 55
Ont. 59 67
Man. 46 52
Sask. 40 46
Alta. 47 53
B.C. 48 55
Y.T. 39 57
N.W.T. 47 46
Nvt. 26 27

Definitions, sources and methodology

This indicator examines educational attainment among Canada’s adult population aged 25 to 64, by age group and sex. It presents a portrait of the situation in 2015, but also shows the evolution since 2005.

The percentage of the population represented by a given age group that has attained a particular education level is obtained by taking the number of persons in this age group who have received a diploma attesting to that level, dividing it by the total number of persons in this same age group, and then multiplying by 100.

The education level corresponds to the highest level of education an individual has attained. The designation of the different levels of schooling is based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED-2011) (see the “ISCED classifications and descriptions” and the “Mapping to ISCED” section for the Labour Force Survey [LFS] in Notes to readers). An individual must have successfully completed a programme at a given ISCED level to be considered as having attained that level of education. An individual who has not successfully completed a programme is assigned the preceding education level. For example, a secondary school graduate, as well as an individual who has undertaken some postsecondary education but who has not obtained a credential at that level, is considered to have attained ISCED level 3 (upper secondary education); a student who has not successfully completed secondary school is considered to have obtained ISCED level 2 (lower secondary education).

The 2015 information presented for Canada on population and educational attainment is based on data from the LFS, which surveys approximately 56,000 households every month.Note 3 The LFS seeks to obtain a detailed and timely picture of the population aged 15 or older throughout the country. It allows proxy reporting, meaning that information on the entire household can be collected from a single member of the household. In all, this type of reporting accounts for approximately 65% of all information collected. Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are those reported by the OECD, and are drawn from OECD and Eurostat databases, as compiled from national labour force surveys or population registers.

Some limitations are encountered when using LFS data to examine and categorize educational attainment using ISCED as it is not possible to make a precise delineation between “postsecondary non-tertiary education” and “short-cycle tertiary education”. LFS data reported for the Canadian population that has attained ISCED level 5 (short-cycle tertiary education) will be somewhat overestimated because this category includes, for example, some CEGEP or college university transfer program graduates who, under the international classification standards, would have been placed in ISCED level 4 (Post-secondary non-tertiary education).

In Statistics Canada’s LFS the master’s or equivalent and doctors or equivalent levels cannot be cannot be identified separately; therefore, educational attainment in the ISCED 7 and 8 (Master’s or equivalent and doctoral or equivalent) categories are combined.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is A1, To what level have adults studied?

Tables for A1 Educational attainment of the adult population

A2 Upper secondary graduation

Context

This indicator presents upper secondary school graduation rates. Graduation rates are often seen as a measure of student achievement. A comparison of overall rates gives some information about the extent to which school systems are succeeding in providing students with what is universally recognized as an important educational milestone. Presenting rates by sex reveals whether any gender differences exist; this in turn can signal whether those systems are meeting the needs of both male and female students. The share of graduates under 25 years of age among all graduates is also presented. 

Upper secondary graduation is the foundation for further education. It has become an essential milestone for most students and provides economic and social benefits for society. Historically, males had been much more likely to graduate from secondary school; however, that pattern has been reversed for many years in Canada and almost all other OECD member countries. Whether male or female, the value of graduating from high school also extends beyond the academic qualification by giving individuals what is now widely considered the minimum requirement for entry into the labour market.

Another dimension presented by this indicator is the successful completion of upper secondary programmes based on a synthetic cohort for public schools. To a certain extent, this indicator reveals the effectiveness of Canada’s various public education systems in producing graduates within the three-year period typically considered by the OECD as the normal duration of an upper secondary education program (on-time graduation). In Canada, this period would be equivalent to Grades 10 to 12, or, in Quebec, Grades 9 to 11.

Observations

CHART A.2.1, Upper secondary graduation rates, by sex, 2014

Data table for Chart A.2.1
Data table for Chart A.2.1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.2.1. The information is grouped by Canada, provinces, territories and OECD (appearing as row headers), Both sexes, Females and Males, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Canada, provinces, territories and OECD Both sexes Females Males
percent
FIN 97 100 94
JPN 97 98 96
KOR 95 94 95
ITA 93 94 92
DEU 91 90 92
USA 82 85 79
OECD 85 88 83
Can. 86 89 84
N.L. 81 82 79
P.E.I. 84 87 80
N.S. 86 86 85
N.B. 86 89 83
Que. 95 99 92
Ont. 89 92 86
Man. 77 79 76
Sask. 78 83 73
Alta. 73 76 71
B.C. 81 86 77
Y.T. 67 69 65
N.W.T. 66 75 58
Nvt. 31 35 27

Upper secondary graduation rates

Graduation rates higher for females

Successful completion of upper secondary programmes

CHART A.2.2 Successful completion of upper secondary programmes, in public schools, 16- to 19-year-olds, by sex, 2014

Data table for Chart A.2.2
Data table for Chart A.2.2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.2.2. The information is grouped by Canada, provinces, territories and OECD (appearing as row headers), Both sexes, Females and Males, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Canada, provinces, territories and OECD Both sexes Females Males
percent
Can. 76 80 73
N.L. 81 85 79
P.E.I. 81 86 77
N.S. 83 84 82
N.B. 84 87 81
Que. 62 69 55
Ont. 84 87 82
Man. 76 78 75
Sask. 70 73 67
Alta. 73 76 70
B.C. 77 79 75
Y.T. 67 70 65
N.W.T. 37 39 35
Nvt. 17 19 14

Definitions, sources and methodology

This indicator presents net upper secondary graduation rates without duplication (i.e., first-time graduates) by sex. It also presents successful completion of upper secondary programmes of a proxy cohort in public schools.

Upper secondary graduation rates

These rates are an estimation of the probability that an individual will graduate from high school during his or her lifetime, assuming that current conditions related to graduation all remain the same.Note 6

Upper secondary graduation rates are the sum of graduation rates by age, and the latter are obtained by dividing graduates of a specific age by the population of the corresponding specific age. Rates without duplication only count individuals who had obtained, during a given year, a diploma at this level for the first time.Note 7 In general, a graduate of upper secondary education is considered to have successfully completed the last year of education at this level, regardless of his or her age.

All data for Canada reflect the 2013/2014 school year; the OECD averages also reflect 2013/2014. Information for Canada was drawn from the Elementary-Secondary Education Survey (ESES), an administrative survey that collects data for public and private educational institutions from the provincial and territorial ministries/departments of education.Note 8 To ensure comparability with other OECD countries, Statistics Canada added, for all provinces and territories (except Ontario and Nova Scotia, for which data were estimated), the number of 2013/2014 graduates from private schools provided by provinces and territories at ESES collection. The number of graduates from First Nations band-operated schools (these data were obtained from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada), were also added to the number of public and private school graduates and included in the calculation of the upper secondary graduation rates presented.

Population estimates used in the denominator of the graduation rate calculation cover the entire population, including Aboriginal people, as of January 1, 2014.

Successful completion of upper secondary programmes in public schools

An adjusted proxy cohort for examination of the successful completion of upper secondary programmes has been developed for public schools (as per the scope of the ESES data collection) for Canada and the jurisdictions. It was calculated by dividing the number of 16- to 19-year-old graduates (15- to 18-year-olds in Quebec) in 2013/2014 by the number of Grade 10 (3e secondaire in Quebec) enrolments recorded three years earlier (i.e., in 2011/2012). This ratio has been adjusted to take into account deaths and interprovincial and international migration factors.

The adjustment factor is generated by dividing the 14- to 15-year-old population in 2011 (which represents the Grade 10 students) by the 17- to 18-year-old population in 2014 (which represents the Grade 10 students who graduated three years later). For Canada, where there is more in-migration than out-migration, the adjustment factor is below 100%. If this adjustment is not made, the inclusion of recent in-migrants who were not part of the original Grade 10 cohort would result in an overestimation of the number of graduates that were part of the original universe (the 2011 Grade 10 enrolments). This adjustment implicitly assumes that graduation rates of recent immigrants are identical to graduation rates of those in the original cohort.

Other possible flows in and out of the public school system between enrolment in Grade 10 and graduation at the end of Grade 12 may exist; for example, movement between public and private schools. Such possibilities could not be taken into consideration, however, as the appropriate data that would be needed to estimate such flows are not available at this time.

International data collection

The international figures used by the OECD are obtained from the UOE collection of statistical data on education, carried out jointly by three international organizations (UNESCO, the OECD, and Eurostat), and conducted in 2015 by the OECD.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is A2, How many students are expected to complete upper secondary education?

Tables for A2 Upper secondary graduation

A3 Labour market outcomes

Context

This indicator examines the connection between educational attainment and the labour market by looking at employment rates among the adult population aged 25 to 64. This relationship is explored by sex and by age group (25 to 34 and 55 to 64). Trends in employment rates by educational attainment are also presented. Educational attainment reflects the highest level of education successfully completed, based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) categories.Note 9

One of the main objectives of education systems is to prepare individuals so they can participate in a knowledge-oriented economy and society. Job prospects and employment rates are generally better for those individuals with higher education.

Observations

Employment rates by attainment

CHART A.3.1, Employment rates of 25- to 64-year-olds, by highest level of education attained and sex, Canada and OECD, 2015

Data table for Chart A.3.1
Data table for Chart A.3.1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.3.1 Highest level of education attained, Below Upper secondary, Lower secondary, Upper secondary, Short cycle tertiary, Bachelor's or equivalent and Master's and doctoral levels or equivalent, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Highest level of education attained
Below Upper secondary Lower secondary Upper secondary Short cycle tertiary Bachelor's or equivalent Master's and doctoral levels or equivalent
percent
Men (OECD) 66 69 81 87 87 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period
Women (OECD) 46 49 66 75 78 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period
Men (Canada) 63 66 77 85 87 86
Women (Canada) 45 49 64 78 79 81

CHART A.3.2, Employment rates of 25- to 64-year-olds, by highest level of education attained, Canada and OECD, 2015

Data table for Chart A.3.2
Data table for Chart A.3.2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.3.2 Below upper secondary, Upper secondary education , Postsecondary non-tertiary and Tertiary, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Below upper secondary Upper secondary education Postsecondary non-tertiary Tertiary
percent
FRA 54 73 59 84
DEU 59 79 85 88
ITA 50 70 74 79
GBR 59 84 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 86
USA 55 69 .. 81
OECD 56 74 79 84
CAN 55 71 80 82
N.L. 42 63 70 78
P.E.I. 60 71 76 82
N.S. 51 68 71 80
N.B. 50 70 73 81
Que. 54 70 79 82
Ont. 52 69 78 82
Man. 60 77 83 84
Sask. 64 78 84 85
Alta. 65 76 85 83
B.C. 57 70 80 79
Y.T. 67 78 78 85
N.W.T. 58 74 87 90
Nvt. 47 70 67 86

Employment rates by attainment, 2005 and 2015

CHART A.3.3, Employment rates of 25- to 34-year and 55 to 64-year-old population, by highest level of education attained, 2005 and 2015

Data table for Chart A.3.3
Data table for Chart A.3.3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.3.3 2005 and 2015, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  2005 2015
percent
Below upper secondary
(25-34)
62 57
Upper secondary
(25-34)
78 73
Postsecondary non-tertiary
(25-34)
86 87
Tertiary
(25-34)
85 84
Below upper secondary
(55-64)
41 49
Upper secondary
(55-64)
56 58
Postsecondary non-tertiary
(55-64)
60 63
Tertiary
(55-64)
62 66

Definitions, sources and methodology

This indicator, labour market outcomes, examines the relationship between educational attainment and the employment rates of 25- to 64-year-olds, overall, by sex, and by age group. It also provides insight into how this relationship has evolved over time.

The employment rate represents the percentage of employed people in this population. To calculate the employment rate for a group with a particular level of educational attainment, the number of employed persons with the particular level of educational attainment is divided by the total number of persons in the population aged 25 to 64 who have attained that education level and then multiplying this quotient by 100.

The concepts and definitions of “employment” and “unemployment” adopted by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are based on those endorsed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Employed persons are those who, during the reference week: (1) did any work at all at a job or business, that is, paid work in the context of an employer-employee relationship, or self-employment. It also includes unpaid family work, which is defined as unpaid work contributing directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned and operated by a related member of the same household; or (2) had a job but were not at work due to factors such as own illness or disability, personal or family responsibilities, vacation, labour dispute or other reasons (excluding persons on layoff, between casual jobs, and those with a job to start at a future date). The education level is measured according to the highest level of schooling completed.

The 2015 data for Canada and its provinces and territories were drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which surveys approximately 56,000 households every month.Note 11 The LFS excludes the following from the scope of the survey: individuals who live on reserves or in other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces, full-time members of the Canadian Forces and institutional residents. The LFS employment rate is based on a monthly average from January to December. Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are those reported by the OECD, and they are extracted from the OECD and Eurostat databases compiled from national labour force surveys for the OECD member countries.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is A5, How does educational attainment affect participation in the labour market?

Tables for A3 Labour market outcomes

Date modified: