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Newcomers drive quality growth in the Canadian workforce—but are still underutilized

December 14, 2022

By CIC News |

Statistics Canada recently released its report on the education level among Canada’s workforce.

Canada ranked first among all G7 nations (including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan) in terms of the share of working age (25 – 64 years) population who held a college or university credential or higher. Over half (57%) of Canada’s labour force were post-secondary graduates. In fact, Canada has led the G7 in workforce credentials since 2006.

Why are Canadian workers so educated?

One key reason behind the growing number of qualified workers in Canada, is a strong and internationally accredited post-secondary education system, which Canadians have benefitted from. The strength of the educational sector can be seen by its growth just among Canadians.

39.7% of young Canadian-born women, and 25.7% of young Canadian-born men held a bachelor degree or higher, with consistent growth in the last ten years. In fact, the rate of growth of core-aged (25-54 year old) men who held a degree in the last five years was equivalent to the ten years before that period.

However, there is another significant reason why Canada’s labour force is more educated and qualified than ever.

The effect of immigration on the labour force

New immigrants and non-permanent residents (holders of a work permit) accounted for almost half of the growth in credentialed workforce members between 2016 and 2021. These were not just among Bachelor’s degree holders (39.1%), but also in higher education certifications like earned doctorates (55.8%), and master’s degrees (52.2%).

In fact, recent immigrants were more highly educated than any previous group, with 59.4% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. It should be noted that Canada additionally remains the most popular destination for international students among G7 countries (with 620,000 present in Canada in 2021); A key source of skilled labour to the workforce after graduation.

Immigrants are therefore a critical addition to Canada’s workforce, not just by numbers, but also in terms of quality of skills and knowledge that they bring the economy. Newcomers are a profound contributor to Canada’s distinction as the most educated workforce among the G7 countries.

However, is Canada doing right by these newcomers?

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