- Increase the share of science and technology-related jobs to 40% by 2025
- Increase work-integrated learning opportunities for young Canadians
- Create 84,000 new student work placements per year across Canada by 2023–24 (Budget 2019)
- Provide 10,000 work-integrated learning placements to post-secondary students and graduates through Mitacs annually by 2021/22 (Budget 2017)
Canada has a highly educated and diverse workforce. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 57% of working age adults in Canada hold a post-secondary degree – the highest percentage in the OECD (OECD, 2018). Canada also has the most diverse workforce in the world, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF, 2018). These strong rankings reflect, in part, Canada's high level of spending on post-secondary education – the third highest in the OECD (OECD, 2018).
However, important skill gaps remain. Fewer than 50% of Canadian students graduate with senior course in STEM at a time when 70% of Canada's top jobs – from health care to skilled trades – require an education in those fields (Let's Talk Science, 2013). Canada ranks 21st in the OECD by the share of post-secondary graduates that studied natural sciences, engineering or information and communication technologies (ICT) (OECD, 2017) and 27% of enterprises in Canada reported "lack of skills" as an obstacle to innovating (Statistics Canada, 2018). To grow and scale-up, firms must be able to fill skills gaps.
In 2011 (latest international comparison), Canada's economy was not as science and technology-intensive as the economies of its peer countries. Figure 1.1 shows that Canada ranked 21st among OECD countries by the share of workers that held professional, science and technology-related jobs. Canada's performance has improved since then, with 34% of Canadian workers holding professional, science and technology-related jobs in 2018, an increase of over 3 percentage points since 2011 (Figure 1.2).
Ensuring businesses have the right pipeline of talent to succeed means equipping Canadians with the tools, skills and experience they need to succeed and that meet industry needs. This includes encouraging more students to pursue studies in areas of high demand such as science and technology-related fields – particularly girls and women, since women are underrepresented among graduates in most STEM fields (Figure 1.3). Let's Talk Science has provided STEM programs in more than 1,700 communities and more than 40 percent of all schools in Canada, with a focus on engaging girls.
The government is committed to creating more co-op and work-integrated learning opportunities to better align learning with industry needs and to create partnerships where industry and academia collaborate to develop talent. For example, the government provided expanded support of $221 million in Budget 2017 for Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between industry and educational institutions, to facilitate the creation of 10,000 work-integrated learning placements a year by 2021/22 (Figure 1.4), reaching over 8,000 in 2018/19. In Budget 2019, the government further committed to creating an additional 84,000 new student work placements per year across Canada by 2023–24. This will mark a significant step to closing the gap between the number of young people who want a student work placement and the number currently able to secure one.
To keep up with the demands of the workplace in the face of changing technology, demographics and business models, it is essential that adults engage in lifelong learning and on-the-job training. As the pace of technological and economic change quickens, adults need to continually develop new professional skills. Figure 1.5 shows that Canada ranked 8th among OECD countries by adult participation in formal and non-formal education in 2015. To help working adults pay for training fees, Budget 2019 introduced the Canada Training Benefit.
Canada's Indigenous populations generally experience lower labour force participation rates and higher unemployment rates than the general population, although there has been some improvement in recent years. For example, the employment rate gap between Indigenous persons with post-secondary credentials living on reserve and non-Indigenous persons with post-secondary credentials fell from 7.5% in 2015 to 5% in 2018 (Figure 1.6). To help Indigenous people improve their skills and find employment, the government enhanced the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program in Budget 2018 to build on the success of its predecessor program, which provided job support to about 50,000 Indigenous peoples across Canada, with 47% being women.