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Conference Board of Canada: Good Grade on Education Only Half the Story

Out of 17 of the best-performing countries in the world, Canada ranks second only to Finland in the area of education and skills, according to the latest Report Card on Canada: How Canada Performs: Education and Skills-Details and Analysis, released today by The Conference Board of Canada.


"Canada's B grade reflects our ability to provide Canadians with a good primary and secondary school education and the skills they need to enter the workforce and achieve success. The weaknesses in our system are at both ends of the spectrum - at the most advanced highest levels of education and with those who struggle with basic literacy skills," said Michael Bloom, Vice-President, Organizational Effectiveness and Learning. "This is significant because in an economic downturn, people with low literacy skills have weaker attachments to the labour market and generally do not do well."


Canada provides quality education to students between the ages of 5 and 25, but produces relatively fewer Ph.D.s and graduates in science and engineering disciplines - which directly affects Canada's creativity and ability to innovate.


At the opposite end of the educational spectrum, adult literacy levels are low - more than 7 million Canadian do not have the basic literacy levels to be fully competent in most jobs in our modern economy. Canadian employers spend less than their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe in workplace training programs. And of what they do invest, only a very small percentage - less than 2 per cent - goes to basic literacy skills.


Over the past decade, Finland has extended its lead over the other 16 comparator countries, including Canada. Finland's superior performance to Canada is particularly noticeable in relation to the high-school graduation rate, high-school literacy and skills levels measured in standardized international tests, and in the production of university-educated scientists, engineers, and holders of doctorate degrees. Finland's performance set a new bar for an "A" grade on many indicators, showing Canada what is possible to achieve.


How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada website is at www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp.





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