Canadians need the skills that tomorrow’s economy requires if Canada is to compete and prosper. And they need to be able to use them. This means high-performing education and training systems, supports for lifelong learning, and creating good jobs. Canada’s long-term prosperity depends on our education systems supporting lifelong learning, so that Canadian workers can adapt as the economy changes.
Performance among Canadian secondary school students in reading, science and math reflects the quality and effectiveness of Canada’s education systems. High performance is likely to lead to further education and labour market success for students.
Canada ranked 4th out of 36 OECD countries in 2018 on performance in reading, science and math among 15-year-olds.
Canada had an average score of 516.7 in 2018 across reading, science and math.
Top 10 OECD countries on performance in reading, science, and math among 15-year-olds.
Threshold: New Zealand was 10th, with an average score of 502.7 for reading, science and math in 2018.
Canada is among the top performing OECD countries on performance in reading, science, and math for 15-year-olds, as assessed through the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Nonetheless, given that scores varied across the country, including some declines in recent years, Canada’s high ranking shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Countries with high post-secondary attainment rates are well-positioned to attract investment and highly skilled immigrants, and to drive innovation and economic growth.
Canada ranked 2nd out of 35 OECD countries on post-secondary education attainment in 2020.
64.4% of Canadian 25-to-34 year-olds had a post-secondary education in 2020.
Top 5 OECD countries on post-secondary education attainment.
Threshold: Lithuania was 5th in the OECD with 56.2% post-secondary education attainment in 2020.
Canada continues to be one of the leaders in the OECD in post-secondary attainment, with the rates increasing steadily over three decades. However, barriers to access remain for many Canadians, including students from low-income families, students whose parents did not attend post-secondary, and Indigenous students.
A growing Canada must fully support and harness the talents and energy of its young people to build shared prosperity. Youth who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) are at risk of being excluded from full participation in Canada’s society and economy and of experiencing negative long-term economic and social outcomes.
Canada ranked 14th out of 32 OECD countries on youth NEET rate in 2020.
Canada’s youth NEET rate was 14.0% of the population of 20-to-24 year-olds in 2020.
Top 10 OECD countries with lowest youth NEET rate.
Threshold: The Slovak Republic was 10th with a youth NEET rate of 13.8% in 2020.
Canada's youth NEET rate increased in 2020. This was largely due to the effects of the pandemic – NEET rates had improved in the years prior. Canada experienced a more significant increase in its NEET rate during the pandemic compared to other OECD countries, which is why the assessment of this indicator declined from “on track” in the 2021 Scorecard to “needs attention” this year. Groups at higher risk for being NEET include young women with children, immigrants and Indigenous youth.
It is critical that Canadians and newcomers are supported in lifelong learning, so they can acquire new skills as the nature of the economy changes and labour market needs shift.
Canada ranked 10th of 31 OECD countries on participation in adult learning.
The proportion of Canadians participating in adult learning was 46.7%.
Top 10 OECD countries on participation in adult learning.
Canada is within the top 10 of OECD countries with respect to participation in adult learning. Nonetheless, Canada is behind many of its peers in its support for and prioritization of employee training.
Broad employment is needed for Canada’s businesses to thrive, for household incomes to rise, for the effects of population aging to be mitigated and for tax revenues needed to support essential services for a growing population.
Canada ranked 19th out of 37 OECD countries in 2020 on employment rate.
Canada's employment rate was 70.0% in 2019.
Top 10 OECD countries on employment rate.
Threshold: Denmark was 10th with an employment rate of 74.4% in 2020.
Canada's employment rate fell nearly five percentage points between 2019 and 2020 due to the impacts of the pandemic. Canada's ranking in relation to OECD countries also fell - from 14th to 19th. In the second quarter of 2021, Canada saw employment levels rebounding, but they still fell short of the target. Barriers in the labour market can lead to lower employment rates for many key groups, including racialized Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
The quality of people’s employment is an important indicator of quality of life, a core building block for creating shared prosperity, and a way to bolster Canada's attractiveness to newcomers. A key element associated with poor job quality is low pay.
Canada ranked 15th out of 16 OECD countries reporting data on incidence of low-wage work in 2019.
Canada's incidence of low-wage work was 20.7% in 2019.
OECD average on incidence of low-wage work.
Threshold: The OECD average for incidence of low-wage work was 13.9% in 2019.
Canada has one of the highest rates of low-wage work among OECD countries. While the quality of jobs has improved in recent years, significant work remains to be done. Low-wage workers are more likely to be racialized.