Balancing the Scales: Canada leads G7 in share of degree-holders as trades workforce dips further, StatsCan says

Toronto, Ontario — A report published by StatsCan on Wednesday showed that Canada boasts the largest share of college and university graduates among G7 nations, but is still leaving a lot of talent on the table when it comes to skilled trades.

The study, which addressed education levels of working-age people (25 to 64) in G7 countries, found that 57.5 percent of Canadians have some sort of university degree or college diploma to their name.

The period of 2016 to 2021 saw the number of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher jump up 19.1 percent, with the fields of healthcare (up 24.1 percent) and computer science (up 46.3 percent) making the most significant gains.

By contrast, the amount of working-age people achieving apprenticeship certification is down or stagnant across many of the country’s most in-demand trades, with repair and mechanical technologies suffering a 7.8 percent downturn, while numbers for the construction trades (up 0.6 percent) and precision production (down 10 percent) were none too impressive either.

Pointing toward a need for the collision industry to look beyond Canada’s borders, the report found that about half of the country’s bachelor’s degree-holders (or higher) are recent immigrants to Canada, though their skills are often sorely underutilized.

It was found that more than a quarter of degree-holding immigrants are currently working jobs that require, at most, a high school diploma. Furthermore, only 41.1 percent of foreign medical degree-holders are currently working as doctors in Canada while 90.1 percent of Canadian-born medical degree-holders are working in their field.

While the paths to either the medical field or the collision repair centres appear at odds with each other, both of the realities currently being faced by these industries meet at a common point of convergence: neither are doing an adequate job of engaging new Canadians with pre-existing credentials.

The report shows that the immigrants we welcome to our country everyday are either educated, or coming here in the pursuit of training and education, but industries across the board are failing to provide adequate skills equivalency programs and upskilling initiatives that could better engage this underrepresented sector of the trades industry.

Statistics Canada’s full report can be found here.


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