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Tertiary Education: Developing Skills for Innovation and Long-Term Growth in Canada

Listed author(s):
  • Calista Cheung


  • Yvan Guillemette


  • Shahrzad Mobasher-Fard

The tertiary education system in Canada performs well in fostering a skilled workforce with generally good labour-market outcomes and is internationally recognised for its research contributions. Tertiary educational attainment is high, but participation rates will need to continue expanding to maintain the supply of highly skilled labour as the population ages and the needs of the knowledge-based economy rapidly evolve. This should be achieved by encouraging access to higher education for disadvantaged socio-economic groups, while enhancing the flexibility of the system to allow students with diverse needs to move between institutions more easily to meet their learning objectives. Immigration is another important source of skills that could be better utilised. The development of skills for innovation can be improved by increasing the integration of technical, business and communications skills training with practical industry experience within tertiary education programmes. In an environment of government spending restraint, the quality of tertiary education could be strengthened by increasing the distinction between institutions that target research and those that emphasise teaching and re-evaluating tuition policies in provinces where public finances are stretched. This Working Paper relates to the 2012 OECD Economic Review of Canada ( Enseignement supérieur : Développer les compétences au service de l'innovation et de la croissance à long terme en Canada Le système d’enseignement supérieur canadien permet d’avoir une main-d’oeuvre qualifiée, qui obtient globalement de bons résultats sur le plan professionnel. Il est par ailleurs reconnu à l’échelle mondiale pour ses contributions à la recherche. Les taux de réussite dans le supérieur sont élevés, mais le taux de fréquentation va devoir s’améliorer si l’on veut maintenir l’offre de main-d’oeuvre qualifiée, à mesure que la population vieillit et que les besoins de l’économie du savoir évoluent. Il faudrait pour cela favoriser l'accès à l'enseignement supérieur des catégories défavorisées, tout en renforçant la flexibilité du système afin de permettre à des étudiants ayant différents besoins de changer d'établissement plus facilement pour atteindre leurs objectifs d'apprentissage. L'immigration constitue également une source précieuse de compétences, qui pourrait être mieux utilisée. Le développement des compétences au service de l’innovation peut être amélioré en associant davantage les compétences techniques, commerciales et de communication à l’expérience pratique dans le cadre des programmes d’enseignement supérieur. Dans un contexte de rigueur budgétaire, la qualité de l’enseignement supérieur pourrait être renforcée en faisant une plus grande distinction entre les établissements qui privilégient la recherche et ceux qui mettent l’accent sur l’enseignement, et en réévaluant les politiques en matière de droits d’inscription dans les provinces où les finances publiques sont tendues. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE du Canada 2012 (

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 991.

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Date of creation: 20 Sep 2012
Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:991-en
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