Skills for the 21st century
Canadians are among those most equipped with the new skills demanded in the 21st century.
Over four out of five Canadians were able to complete the computer-based assessment.
Canadians are more likely than the OECD average to have higher levels of proficiency in the new domain of “problem solving in technology-rich environments.”
Literacy and numeracy
Canada performs at the OECD average in literacy.
Canada performs below the OECD average in numeracy.
Canada's overall performance across the three domains compares favourably to that of many other OECD countries.
The distribution of skills
Canada has a higher-than-average proportion of its population at both the high and low ends of the proficiency scales.
Over one in seven Canadians perform at the highest levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy.
A significant number of Canadians (between one in seven and one in five) have very low levels of proficiency.
Higher levels of proficiency are associated with better social and economic outcomes.
In technology-rich environments, the challenges facing those with lower proficiency in literacy and numeracy contribute to the “digital divide”.
The skills of young adults
Young adults have a skills advantage compared to older age groups, especially in PS-TRE; this is true in Canada and across the OECD.
The skills advantage that young adults have over their older counterparts is larger in a number of other countries than it is in Canada.
Education and skills
Educational attainment has a strong positive influence on proficiency.
Canadians with a postsecondary education have a significant and enduring advantage.
The proficiency levels of Canadians with a university degree are on par with those of their counterparts in the OECD.
There is a clear relationship between participation in organized adult learning and proficiency; but those who could benefit most from adult learning are not always those who access it.
Skills in the labour force
Canada has one of the most skilled and educated labour forces in the OECD.
Canada has more workers than average in occupations associated with higher levels of proficiency, and fewer than average in those associated with lower levels of proficiency.
There appears to be a good match in Canada between the skills that jobs require and the skills that workers have.
Canada is one of only a few countries whose immigrant population is both proportionately larger than average and more proficient than average.
While there is a skills gap between immigrants and non-immigrants, the gap in Canada is relatively narrow.
For immigrants, educational attainment does not always translate into proficiency in literacy in the official language of their new country.
Immigrants who receive a significant portion of their education in Canada are much less likely to be at a disadvantage in terms of skills.
The proportion of the population whose mother tongue is different from the language of the assessment is higher in Canada than in any other country.
Canadian immigrants whose mother tongue is neither English nor French perform better than foreign-born/ foreign-language respondents in almost all other countries.
In Canada, official-language minority populations tend not to perform as well as official-language majority populations (except for anglophones in Quebec), but the size of the differences varies across jurisdictions.
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people with similar levels of education have similar skills proficiency; education is the key to eliminating the skills gap. ^
The skills gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is wider among young adults than among older cohorts of the population.
The skills gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people varies considerably by region and by type of skills assessed.
Skills gaps that matter
The OECD observes that the variation in proficiency between the adult populations in participating countries is relatively small.
The same is true of provinces and territories within Canada.
The difference between the performance of people from different backgrounds within jurisdictions is much larger than the difference between jurisdictions themselves.