Thursday, February 4, 2010

Canada Ranks 2nd out of 16 Peer Countries in Education and Skills Performance

By:Kathleen Legris

Canada earned top marks for its Education and Skills performance, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s How Canada Performs comparison with 16 other developed countries.

How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada is the Conference Board’s annual benchmarking analysis, which the Board has conducted since 1996. The assessment measures Canada’s performance against leading countries in the domains of Economy, Health, Society, Innovation, Environment, and Education and Skills.

Canada did exceptionally well in Education, even outperforming its largest trading partner, the U.S., by a sizable margin. The latest Education and Skills rankings give the country an “A” grade, an improvement from last year’s “B” result. Canada remains second to Finland in overall Education and Skills outcomes followed by Japan, Switzerland, Sweden Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, U.K., Denmark, Austria, Ireland, France, Norway, U.S. and Italy. Canada closed the gap on Finland by improving substantially on two key indicators:

* The proportion of working-age population that graduated from high school increased by a full percentage to 86.6%.
* Canada’s proportion of graduates from science, math, computer science and engineering disciplines improved significantly.



Canada’s strength is in delivering a high-quality education to people between the ages of 5 and 25 with comparatively modest spending. The country obtained “A” or “B” grades on 13 of the 15 Education and Skills indicators. Some weaknesses were illustrated in the results. Canada received a “D” grade on the indicator measuring Ph.D. graduates, and its performance on this indicator has deteriorated significantly over time. The leading country on this indicator, Sweden, has three and a half times Canada’s Ph.D. graduation rate. This poor ranking has implications for the country’s ability to improve innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.

How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada measures how well Canada is meeting its fundamental goal of creating a high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians. The majority of the data used for this benchmarking report is supplied by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The rest comes from other reliable sources, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. The most recent year of data is used for each indicator. In some cases, such as literacy skills, the data is taken from surveys that were conducted several years ago.