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
- In Canada, the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 with tertiary education (college/university completion) increased from 46% in 2005 to 55% in 2015, the highest rate among OECD countries. At the same time, the proportion of individuals with less than high school completion (“below upper secondary”) decreased, from 15% in 2005 to 10% in 2015. Similar changes were mirrored in the provinces.
- In 2015, one-quarter (26%) of 25- to 64-year-olds in Canada had completed short cycle tertiary education, far greater than the average of 8% reported by the OECD.
- Canada’s average for completion of university education for 25- to 64-year-olds was 30%, a rate just above the OECD figure at 28%. In Canada, university degree refers to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral and equivalent degrees.
- At the post-secondary non-tertiary level, which captures the traditionally male-dominated areas of trades, the proportion of men (15%) was close to double that of women (7%). The opposite was true at the college and university levels, with the gap more marked at college (29% for women vs 22% for men) than university (32% for women and 27% for men).
- Ninety-three percent of Canadian adults aged 25 to 34 had attained at least upper secondary education (a high school diploma) in 2015, compared with 85% for those aged 55 to 64, reflecting change in attainment patterns for high school completion over time. There were relatively small differences between provinces in the proportion of adults aged 25 to 34 with at least a high school diploma; 2015 figures for all provinces ranged from 90% to 95%.
A2 Upper secondary graduation
- Canada’s upper secondary graduation rate was 86% in 2014. The OECD average was 85%, and most OECD countries reported graduation rates of at least 80%. Within the OECD, Japan and Finland had the highest graduation rates at 97%. The upper secondary graduation rate corresponds to the probability that an individual will graduate from high school during his or her lifetime.
- In Canada, graduates under 25 years of age represented 94% of all graduates in 2014, compared with 98% for the OECD overall.
- Upper secondary graduation rates for females were higher than those for males in all provinces and territories, as well as in most of the OECD countries for which comparable data were available. In Canada, the rate for females was 89%; the rate for males, 84%.
- In Canada in 2014, successful completion in public secondary schools was 76%. This indicator measures the “on-time” graduation of the 2011/2012 cohort of Grade 10 students (Secondary III in Quebec), an indication of the efficiency of the public school system. Among the provinces and territories, the proportion of students who completed their education within the expected time varied considerably, from 17% in Nunavut to 84% in New Brunswick and Ontario.
A3 Labour market outcomes
- In Canada and other OECD countries, employment prospects increase with educational attainment. In 2015, Canada’s employment rate for adults aged 25 to 64 who had not completed upper secondary education (high school) was 55%. In and throughout Canada, as well as in the OECD countries overall, the 2015 employment rates among the 25- to 64-year-old population were clearly highest—around 82% and beyond—among individuals who had a “tertiary education”; that is, a college or university credential.
- Between 2005 and 2015, employment rates were consistently higher among individuals with a tertiary education compared with those who had not attained that level of education, both throughout Canada and the OECD countries overall.
- In most OECD countries in 2015, the difference in employment rates between the sexes was less pronounced among university graduates compared with the upper secondary graduates. In Canada, a 13-percentage-point difference was observed between the employment rates for men and women in the upper secondary graduation category: 77% for men compared with 64% for women. Among university and college graduates, the male–female differences narrowed to around 7 and 8 percentage points, respectively.
- Employment rates dropped for young adults aged 25-34 with lower levels of education. In 2015, 73% of young adults with upper secondary were employed versus 78% for this same age group in 2005. This was not true for young adults with postsecondary non-tertiary or tertiary education, as between the two time periods, employment rates were more similar.
- In Canada, for 55-64-year-olds, the employment rate was higher in 2015 at every level of education than the rate observed in 2005 indicating that the older generation increasingly postponed retirement and continued working beyond age 55. For most of the OECD countries the employment rate did not change for this age group during the same time period.
Chapter B: Financial resources invested in education
B1 Expenditure per student
- Expenditure per student at the primary/secondary level was similar for Canada, other G7 countries and the OECD average.
- At $US 25,598, Canada’s expenditure per student at the university level was almost 60% higher than the OECD average of $US 16,199, but was similar to the averages from the United Kingdom and United States.
B2 Expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
- With 6.0% of its GDP allocated to educational institutions in 2013, Canada devoted a higher share of its wealth to education than the OECD countries overall (an average of 5.2%). The share of GDP devoted to educational institutions varied from one province or territory to another. The allocation of financial resources to educational institutions is a collective choice, made by government, business, and individual students and their families. The share of GDP is partially influenced by the size of the school-age population and enrolment in education, as well as relative wealth.
- In 2013, 42% of the share of GDP that Canada invested in education was allocated to the tertiary sector. Among the OECD countries, Canada, along with the United States (43%) and Chile (43%) , allocated the largest share of education spending to tertiary education.
- Among the G7 countries, Italy spent the highest share of GDP invested in education on primary and secondary education at 74% while the United States spent the lowest at 57%. Canada was slightly higher at 58%.
B3 Distribution of expenditure on education
- In 2014, current expenditure accounted for most of the educational expenditure in Canada, in the provinces and territories and in all OECD countries for all levels of education. In Canada, it accounted for 93% of total expenditure at the primary and secondary levels, 95% at the short cycle tertiary (college) and postsecondary non-tertiary level, and 91% at the university level. At the postsecondary level, capital expenditure was 8% in Canada, compared with 11% for the OECD average.
- At all levels of education and in all provinces and territories, the compensation of staff (teaching and non-teaching) represented the largest proportion of current expenditure in education. In Canada, it accounted, on average, for 80% of current expenditure at the primary and secondary levels, 66% at the short cycle tertiary (college) and postsecondary non-tertiary level, and 67% at the university level. For postsecondary education, the Canadian and OECD averages were both 67%.
- At the primary and secondary levels, compensation of teachers accounted for the largest proportion of compensation of staff. In addition, other current expenditures (not related to compensation of teaching and non-teaching staff) was higher at the postsecondary level than at the primary and secondary levels.
Chapter C: Access to education, participation and progression
C1 International students
- The majority of international students in tertiary education in Canada were registered in Bachelor’s or equivalent level programs, and were from Asia.
- Among G7 countries, Canada had a higher proportion of international students than Germany and Japan at all education levels. The patterns for France, the United Kingdom and the United States were more similar to Canada’s, except that they all had much higher proportions at the doctoral level, and also for the master’s level in the United Kingdom.
C2 Transitions to the labour market
- In 2016, the majority of young Canadians aged 15 to 19 years were in school (83%). For young adults 20 to 24 years of age, the percentage who had transitioned to the labour market and were employed (44%) was similar to that of those who were still pursuing their education (41%). For those in the 25-to-29 age group, most (71%) were not in school and were employed.
- In 2016, little variation was observed in the Canadian average of young NEETs between women (13%) and men (14%) in the 15-to-29 age group. However, when “unemployed” and “not in the labour force” data were examined separately within the young NEET population, there was a greater proportion of women (9%) than men (7%) who were not in the labour force, whereas more men (7%) than women (3%) were unemployed. This trend was observed in almost all provinces and territories and in the OECD average.
- In Canada in 2016, a greater proportion of women (44%) than men (35%) aged 15 to 29 years worked while they were in school. This trend, seen in all provinces, is observed year after year.
Chapter D: The learning environment and organization of schools
D1 Instruction time
- In Canada, in 2015/2016, the total intended instruction time in formal classroom settings was 8,307 hours on average, between the ages of 6 and 14 (this includes the primary (ages 6 to 11) and lower secondary (ages 12 to 14) levels of education). By comparison, total intended instruction time for the OECD countries for which data were available was 7,477 hours. This was 830 fewer hours than the average total intended instruction time in all public institutions in Canada during the 2015/2016 school year.
- Total intended instruction time for students aged 6 to 17 (primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels) varied by province and territory, ranging from 12,252 hours in the Northwest Territories to 9,900 hours in Quebec (where upper secondary ends at age 16).
D2 Teachers’ salaries
- In Canada, the salary for teachers at the beginning of their careers, in public elementary and secondary schools was about $51,046 Canadian dollars in 2013/2014, ranging from $41,700 in Quebec to $74,088 in the Northwest Territories.
- In 2013/2014, teachers’ salaries in and throughout Canada were similar regardless of the level of education being taught. Overall in Canada, average salaries for teachers at the beginning of their career (presented in US dollars for international comparisons) were $39,492 in both primary and lower secondary institutions, and $39,658 for those in upper secondary institutions. The comparable OECD averages (US dollars) were all lower, and they also varied by level taught, at $31,028, $32,485 and $34,186, respectively.
- In over one half of the provinces and territories in Canada, teachers in public elementary and secondary schools reached their maximum salary after 10 years’ experience—much sooner than their counterparts in other OECD countries.
- Within the G7 group of countries, teachers from Germany with 15 years of experience ($US 69,431) had the highest average salary. This compares with $US 65,511 for their Canadian counterparts.
D3 Teachers’ working time
- In Canada, primary school teachers taught an average of 796 hours per year in 2013/2014, compared with the OECD average of 776 hours. Figures varied by province and territory, ranging from 700 hours in New Brunswick to 905 hours in Alberta.
- Within the G7 group of countries, net teaching time for teachers in the United States (981), Germany (750) and England (745) was higher than the Canadian average (743).
- Net teaching time in Finland was included as a comparison because of this country’s high ranking in international academic assessments. Teachers in Finland at the lower secondary level had a lower net teaching time than all of the G7 countries (589 hours), Canada included.
- Net annual teaching time was 743 hours at the lower secondary level (generally Grades 7 to 9) and 744 hours at the upper secondary level (generally Grades 10 to 12). These figures for Canada are higher than the averages for the OECD countries overall—49 hours higher at the lower secondary level and 100 hours at the upper secondary level.
- On average in Canada, net teaching time represented about 60% of teachers’ total working time. It was similar for lower and upper secondary levels taught (60%), and higher at the primary level (65%). This ratio and the pattern across levels of education taught were similar to the OECD average.
Chapter E: Intergenerational Mobility in Education
E1 Insights from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
- Mobility between two generations from upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary to tertiary education is particularly large in Canada, in relation to the OECD average and to G7 countries. In fact, mobility at this level in Canada is second largest among these countries, after Korea.
- In Canada and the OECD, intergenerational mobility from upper secondary or postsecondary non-tertiary to tertiary is generally greater among women than among men. The difference in mobility at this level between women and men is larger in Canada than the OECD average.
- In Canada, intergenerational mobility from upper secondary or postsecondary non-tertiary to tertiary education is greater among those with foreign-born parents than among those with native-born parents. The reverse pattern is seen in OECD countries on average. In fact, intergenerational mobility in Canada among those with foreign-born parents is second largest in the OECD, after New Zealand.
- Intergenerational perpetuation of tertiary education in Canada is higher than that of any other level of education. Canada is above the OECD average and many other PIAAC participating countries in intergenerational perpetuation at this level. On the other end of the scale, intergenerational perpetuation of below upper secondary in Canada is lower than the OECD average, and lower than that of G7 countries except for Japan.
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