Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Canada remains second to Finland in overall Education and Skills outcomes

Canada Earns an ‘A’ Grade for Results in Education and Skills

Ottawa, January 6 —Canada earns top marks for its Education and Skills performance, according to the Conference Board’s How Canada Performs comparison with 16 other developed countries.

The updated Education and Skills rankings, published today, give Canada an “A” grade, an improvement from last year’s “B” result. Canada remains second to Finland in overall Education and Skills outcomes, but closed the gap with the leader by improving substantially on two key indicators:
  • Between 2006 and 2007, the proportion of Canada’s working-age population that graduated from high-school increased by a full percentage point (from 85.6 per cent to 86.6 per cent). The top performer on this indicator, the United States, only increased its proportion by 0.1 percentage point (from 87.8 per cent to 87.9 per cent). 
  • Canada’s proportion of graduates from science, math, computer science and engineering disciplines significantly improved. While it still earns only a ‘C’ grade on this indicator, it is an improvement from last year’s “D”.
“Compared to its peer countries, Canada is an exceptional performer in the classroom,” said Brenda Lafleur, Director, How Canada Performs. “Canada’s strength is in delivering a high-quality education to people between the ages of 5 and 25 with comparatively modest spending. Canada obtains “A” or “B” grades on 13 of the 15 Education and Skills indicators.”

However, some weaknesses remain in Canada’s results. Canada gets a “D” grade on the indicator measuring Ph.D. graduates, and its performance on this indicator has deteriorated significantly over time. The leading country on this indicator, Sweden, has three and a half times Canada’s Ph.D. graduation rate. Canada’s relatively poor ranking has implications for the country’s ability to improve innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.

In addition, Canada needs to focus on improving access to education and skills outside the traditional school system, in areas such as workplace training programs. Canada should also be concerned about its adult literacy rate, since an estimated 7 million adults (42 per cent of the adult population) have a low level of literacy. Conference Board research indicates that people with low literacy skills are more likely to do poorly during economic downturns and may not be well-prepared to adjust to a changing labour market.

How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada is the Conference Board’s annual benchmarking analysis, which the Board has conducted since 1996. The Conference Board assesses Canada’s performance against leading countries in the domains of Economy, Health, Society, Innovation, Environment, and Education and Skills.

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