Education Revolution in Canada?


As parts of the country are grappling with school strikes, a new national poll released yesterday (March 11). So it shows that nearly 9 in 10 Canadian employees, or 89%, say an education revolution is necessary in the country to better prepare students for the modern workforce. An education revolution represents a whole new approach to education, skills training and learning.

Further, 4 in 5 employees say that schools are not preparing students with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace (80%). Besides, the education system has failed to evolve to meet the needs of the workforce (82%).

Education Revolution in Canada?

The Harris Poll study, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals and conducted among more than 600 Canadian employees ages 18 or older in December 2019, explores what an educational revolution could entail.

“Canadians want an education revolution, a new approach to education, that includes workforce skills and hands-on experience while at school. They strongly believe in continued education,” said Express CEO Bill Stoller. “Support for a change in education is overwhelming and unanimous across every demographic.”

A strong majority of Canadian employees (89%) indicate that they wish they had more exposure to the world of work while they were in school; while 76% wish that they had been better prepared to deal with transitioning from school to work.

Few Canadian employees use their education in their current job

Even though the poll shows that 54% of Canadian employees with at least an associate degree work in the same field or profession in which they received their degrees or certifications, 67% of all employees say they use little, or none at all, of their education in their current job. More than 3 in 4, 77%, agree that most of what they do day to day at their job, they never learned in school.

What is an Education Revolution?

What does an education revolution entail? As a matter of fact, an overwhelming majority, 9 out of 10 or 87%, believe getting a degree should require on-the-job experience, not just coursework. Only 59% believe four-year universities or colleges are the best avenue to career success.

Eighty-four percent believe it takes skills typically not taught in school to get a job. Many would also like to see basic life and career skills taught in high school.

Respondents were asked, “Which of the following, if any, do you wish your high school would have offered/taught to better prepare you for the workforce?”

Money Management
How to handle real-life workplace situations
Filing taxes
Networking skills

Despite the clear demand for more career experience while at school, participation in work experience programs remain relatively low.

Respondents were asked, “Which of the following work experience programs, if any, did you participate in when you were in school?”

Education Revolution in Canada?

Continued learning is essential for education revolution

There is an equally strong agreement that continued education after school is important.

The vast majority (86%) agree that anyone who doesn’t continue to learn in their career (e.g., staying up to date on new techniques, advancements, etc.) will be left behind in the workforce. Among those who have not gone back to school after entering the workforce, most (82%) think it would be useful, and only around 1 in 5 (22%) say the reason they have not gone back to school is because they have already acquired the necessary degrees or certifications for their career.

Who should pay for education?

Nearly 2 in 5 employees in Canada (39%) believe the government should be responsible for paying for post-secondary education, while 31% say this burden should rest with the student, and 26% say the student’s parents or family members should pay for it. Notably, views on this differ across generations, with Millennials the most likely to say government should pay for college (millennials, 49%; Gen X, 36%; boomers/seniors, 29%), while boomers/seniors are the most likely to cite the student should pay (millennials, 24%; Gen X, 28%; boomers/seniors, 43%).

Education Revolution in Canada?

Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted online within Canada by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Dec. 5 and Dec. 30, 2019, among 630 Canadian employees (adults from 18+ in Canada who work full-time, part-time, or self-employed and have at least a high school degree). Figures are weighted where necessary by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, income, marital status, employment, household size, and propensity to be online to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available upon request.

Generations defined as: Gen Z (ages 18-24), millennials (ages 25-38), Gen X (ages 39-54), and boomers/seniors (ages 55+).