The Case for Government Investment in Essential Skills

Canadians want more jobs, to earn more without working more, to be healthier and to have access to the Canada’s rate of productivity growth is below the level needed to drive improvement in our standard of living and to maintain our competitiveness on global markets.

Achieving higher rates of productivity depends on increasing both our level of technical skill and knowledge and our levels of key cognitive skills – language, literacy and numeracy – needed to apply technical skills and knowledge to globally competitive levels. It also requires that employers create jobs that require workers to use their knowledge and skills rich.

Read more in our paper The Case for Government Investment in Essential Skills.

The underlying policy analysis was undertaken by DataAngel Policy Research.

Related documentation: 12 Questions to Highlight the Importance of Government Action on Essential Skills
Related documentation: The Business Case for Investment in Essential Skills in Numbers
Related report: Smarten Up – It’s Time to Build Essential Skills

You can download pdfs of all our documents here: DataAngel | Resources

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Level 3 as a Minimum National Literacy Standard

The initial publication of literacy results from the 2011 OECD PIAAC international adult skills assessment abandoned the Level 3 proficiency standard that had been applied in reporting the results of 1987 LSUDA study, the 1994, 1996 and 1998 IALS studies and the 2003 IALSS study. The reason cited by a senior OECD official for the change was quite astounding “Level 3 is too demanding for the Italians, as 70% of their adult population fall below this threshold and that makes them feel bad.” Based on a careful analysis of the impact of skill level on individual, institutional and national success, I believe that there a strong reasons for Canada to maintain Level 3 literacy as a national standard, one that is needed to assure that we can continue to meet our collective social and economic goals.

Key elements of the evidence that supports Level 3 are presented in our paper Level 3 as a Minimum National Literacy Standard.

The underlying policy analysis was undertaken by DataAngel Policy Research.

You can download pdfs of all our documents here: DataAngel | Resources

Average Hourly Wage (2010$) by Essential Skill Level of Occupation 1997-2015

Average Hourly Wage (2010$) by Essential Skill Level of Occupation 1997-2015

This chart links rising wage inequality to shifts in the relative wages earned by the literacy level demanded by the job.

Workers in jobs that demand low levels of literacy have experienced no real wage growth over the past decade.

Workers in jobs that demand high literacy levels have enjoyed very attractive real wage gains.

This difference explains most of the increase in wage and income inequality observed in Canada over the period.

 

Underlying research and analysis was undertaken by DataAngel Policy Research

To download a pdf of this chart, click here: Average Hourly Wage (2010$) by Essential Skill Level of Occupation 1997-2015

Credentials are not enough | Policy Options

While we are among the most highly educated countries in the world, many of our workers lag behind their peers in international assessments of cognitive skills, like literacy and numeracy. In the most recent assessment conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canadian adults aged 16 to 64 ranked in the middle of the class — at the international average score in literacy and below the average score in numeracy.

But research published in November 2015 by the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) finds a rising incidence of overqualification among recent university graduates. Taken together, the two reports suggest that despite a substantial increase in educational attainment at the top end, the skill distribution of jobs has not kept pace.

Matching of education and jobs among university graduates ages 25-34, 1991-2014

Read Scott’s blog post here: Credentials are not enough | Policy Options

Want employment and wage growth? It’s skills stupid! | Broadbent Institute

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It is critical to confront what will happen to the Canadian economy and society if governments fail to act on skill shortages. Jobs will continue to move offshore to equally skilled but cheaper markets. Employment levels, wage levels, benefit levels and tax revenue will fall. The level of wage and income inequality will rise sharply as high skilled individuals capture the benefits of their higher productivity in the knowledge economy.

Read Scott’s full blog post here: Want employment and wage growth? It’s skills stupid! | Broadbent Institute

Smarten Up – It’s Time to Build Essential Skills (2015)

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Smarten Up – It’s Time to Build Essential Skills, a report by Janet Lane and T Scott Murray, was published this week by Canada West Foundation.

If every worker had the essential skills needed to do their jobs really well, productivity and competitiveness in the West would soar. But four in ten do not.

Download a pdf of the report from the DataAngel website or visit the Canada West Foundation publications page.