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Canada Could Gain Billions From Improvements in Recognizing Education and Skills

According to a new Conference Board of Canada report, Canadians would earn $13.4 to $17 billion more annually if their learning credentials were fully recognized. This is up from the $4.1 to $5.9 billion estimated in our 2001 report.

Ottawa, January 26, 2016—According to a new Conference Board of Canada report, Canadians would earn $13.4 to $17 billion more annually if their learning credentials were fully recognized. This is up from the $4.1 to $5.9 billion estimated in our 2001 report. These gains would be realized through better employment of international and provincial migrants, and experiential learners, as a result of their knowledge and skills being formally recognized by employers, post-secondary institutions and professional associations.

“Canada depends on a mobile labour force whose learning credentials are often issued in a different place from where they work. When people’s learning and skills are not formally recognized, they are more likely to be unemployed, work part time, or work in jobs beneath their skills set,” said Michael Bloom, Vice-President, Industry and Business Strategy, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • An estimated 844,000 Canadians are unemployed or underemployed because of their credentials not being adequately recognized.
  • These Canadians could earn up to $17 billion more per year if their education and skills were formally recognized.
  • Canada’s economy is shifting towards higher-skilled jobs and learning credentials are an increasingly important way to match people to jobs.

The report, Brain Gain 2015: The State of Canada’s Learning Recognition System, estimates that over 844,000 Canadian adults face challenges having their learning recognized, up from 540,000 in 2001. Immigrants are the largest group, with an estimated 524,000 international credential holders affected by a lack of learning recognition. Almost 200,000 people with out-of-province credentials and 120,000 with hands-on, experiential learning not recognized in a credential also face education recognition challenges.

“The findings indicate that despite substantial improvements in recognition and portability of credentials across provincial and territorial borders, the learning recognition gap has grown substantially since 2001. Given Canada’s high degree of labour mobility, it needs a more flexible and responsive learning recognition system that allows people to use their skills to the fullest,” said Bloom.

Improving Canada’s learning recognition system could potentially increase the annual incomes of the people affected by an average of $15,000 to $20,000 per person. Closing the recognition gap would produce an estimated gain of $8.7 billion in employment earnings for those currently not working, and between $5 and $8.3 billion for those who are underemployed.

The report includes recommendations for improving Canada’s learning recognition system. They include:

  • Modify immigration selection and settlement to include learning recognition during the selection process.
  • Align immigration and workforce and development policies.
  • Export Canadian post-secondary education curriculum and programs into other countries.
  • Make the business case for learning recognition and engage employers in the process.
  • Move more occupations to national standards.
  • Improve openness and transparency of existing recognition systems. 

View the Brain Gain infographic

Findings from the report will be presented at a live webinar on February 19, at 2:00 PM ET.

For more information contact

Corporate Communications

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