Post-secondary education, race and sex

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The gender gap between percentage of women aged 25 to 34 with a tertiary credential and the equivalent percentage of men, by racial identity, 2016

What is this metric and why is it important?

The extent to which people from different groups have education—and associated credentials—shapes their set of opportunities to participate in and benefit from the innovation economy. We report here the percentage of those aged 25 to 34 that have attained post-secondary education, disaggregated by race, sex, and type of attainment.

How is Canada doing?

  • In 2016, as a whole, racialized people between the age of 25 and 34 in Canada are more likely to have a post-secondary education (74%) than non-racialized populations (67%).
  • Racialized people (excluding Indigenous peoples) are much more likely to hold a university degree (48%) than non-racialized populations (30%), but this differs significantly by specific racial identity. For example, 63% of those who identify as Chinese hold a university degree versus 29% of those who identify as Black.   
  • Non-racialized populations are more likely to hold apprenticeship or trades certificates than racialized people (12% versus 4%), but among racialized people this ranges from 9% among those who identify as Latin American or Black to 2% among those who identify as Chinese, Korean, or South Asian.
  • Inuit (26%), Métis (55%), and First Nations (40%) are less likely to hold a post-secondary education credential than non-Indigenous people (71%).

Metric discussion

Post-secondary education refers to optional, structured programs of instruction that follow K–12 schooling and lead to a certificate, diploma, or degree that acknowledges the development of advanced skills and knowledge. This includes further education and training in colleges, polytechnics, CEGEPs, and universities, as well as apprenticeships and trades training. We report here on the percentage of a particular group that has achieved a post-secondary certificate. 

Attainment differences among demographic groups are important for two reasons: Lower participation of certain groups in innovation-related activities and employment due to lower educational attainment means that new innovations and technologies might ignore—or even pose harm to—those communities, because they are developed without their knowledge and experiences in mind. Biased artificial intelligence systems and applications are a recent example. Second, lower educational attainment among certain groups means that people from those groups will be less likely to benefit from innovation and growth, given how economic benefits generally flow to those with higher education and skills. Thus, while Canada has a good education and skills foundation for innovation in general, gaps in education and skills attainment pose risks to both the quality of innovation and the distribution of benefits among all people.

Limitations

The aggregation of different groups into the category of “not a visible minority” makes certain comparisons difficult. Additionally, the lack of a distinct category for those who identify as “White” or “Caucasian” impairs analysis.

© Inclusive Innovation Monitor 2021