January 27, 2023

Data: Canada has the largest share of college and university graduates in the G7

The most recent Statistics Canada release of 2021 census data reveals that Canada continues to top the G7 in terms of the total number of college and university graduates as a share of its total population. In 2021, 57.5% of Canadians aged 25-64 held a college or university credential (up 3.5% from 2016 and the highest percentage among G7 countries)! 

Why and how? Statistics Canada credits a strong college and institutes system as key to its high international standing.  

On the surface, the numbers continue a trend of increasing proportions of postsecondary graduates. What’s more, as of 2021, we now have data that further delineates what Statistics Canada calls “highest certificate, diploma or degree” achieved. That means, for the first time, we can get a clear picture of Canadians with a college, institute, cégep, or other non-university certificate or diploma! 

  • In total, 34% of Canadians have attained a college credential (slightly more than those that have a university credential). Thirty-three percent of Canadians have a university credential. And, we now know that about one third of these Canadians also have a college or institute credential, and vice-versa! *It’s important to note that this figure does not indicate which came first (the university or college credential). 

Colleges and institutes are highly accessible, and their programs are based on what employers need. 

  • The data also tell us that nearly 1 in 5 college and institute students in Canada had previously completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. (Ontario and British Columbia are among the provinces with the highest percentage of college and institute students who had already obtained a bachelor’s degree at 25.8% and 24.1% respectively). 
  • Women and immigrant college or institute students were more likely to have previously completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. Twenty-two percent of women (compared to 16% of men) and one in three immigrant college or institute students (compared to one in ten Canadian born students) had previously completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

So, what does it all mean? More and more Canadians – and newcomers – are going back to school (at a college or institute) to reskill to find in a different industry, to upgrade their skills, or to complement previous education with hands-on training. If being futureproof means strengthening your position in a competitive job market, then colleges and institutes are the key.