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New Conference Board Economic Indicator

The Conference Board's newly launched Composite Leading Index shows that the Canadian economy will grow in the first half of 2014 — but only modestly. The Index rose 0.3 per cent in December matching the gains made in both October and November. This trend signifies that the economy is growing, but Canadian growth will not pick up the pace until later in the year. The Composite Leading Index sums up the performance of ten components that track the short-term course of the economy.


The Falling Loonie

The biggest economic story of the new year has been the fall of the Canadian dollar. The Conference Board's assessment is that the drop in the dollar, if sustained, would have a small positive impact on economic growth in the short term. Some exporters may stand to benefit, but a declining loonie will also hit all Canadians in the pocketbook. More important than the value of the loonie is the signal it sends about the Canadian economy.

Taxis: That other supply management system

Shopping for milk and hailing a cab are two everyday activities that do not seem to have much in common. Yet, they are more alike than they appear at first glance. Dairy products are managed by a complicated system under which the amount to be produced is predetermined. Taxis are organized much the same way. Taxicab service remains tightly controlled even during times of high demand, such as the holiday season.

Why a Canadian Food Strategy?

Food impacts our lives, our health, our jobs, and our economy. Since 2010, the Conference Board's Centre for Food in Canada has been bringing together stakeholders from different sectors to create a Canadian Food Strategy—one that will meet the country's need for a coordinated, long-term strategy on industry prosperity, healthy and safe food, household food security, and environmental sustainability. The strategy will be launched at the 3rd Canadian Food Summit 2014: From Strategy to Action on March 18–19 in Toronto.

Measuring and Managing Innovation

It is perhaps the worst-kept economic secret in the country. Canada does not take advantage of its innovation capabilities, and that is impeding its growth potential. Canadian firms can use metrics to improve their innovation activities and competitiveness. However, almost 40 per cent of Canadian companies don't measure the success of their innovation activities at all. Of those firms that do, most use the kinds of measures that don't actually link well to their organizations' bottom-line results.

Conference Board of Canada One of the National Capital Region's Top Employers

The Conference Board of Canada is proud to announce that it has again been recognized as one of the National Capital Region's Top Employers for 2014. This marks the fifth time in seven years that the Conference Board has been named to the list of top employers in the Ottawa region. A key to our success is our ability to attract and retain outstanding talent, and this recognition only strengthens our position as an employer of choice.

CBoC Highlights

Photo of the Hon. Jason T. Kenney Photo of Vijay Gill

Satyamoorthy Kabilan, Director, National Security and Strategic Foresight, delivered a presentation on security and intelligence at the Canadian International Council dinner that aired on CPAC on January 18.

Pedro Antunes, Director, National and Provincial Forecast, discussed Canada's December job losses and the economy on CBC's Power & Politics on January 10.

In This Issue

  • New Conference Board Economic Indicator
  • The Falling Loonie
  • Taxis: That other supply management system
  • Why a Canadian Food Strategy?
  • Measuring and Managing Innovation
  • Conference Board of Canada One of the National Capital Region’s Top Employers

Previous Issues


Best Practices: Return to Work, Disability Management and COVID-19
Apr 09 at 2:00 PM

The Future of Work: Employment and skills in 2030
Apr 15 at 2:00 PM

Pathways into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for Indigenous Learners
Apr 16 at 2:00 PM

Latest Blogs

Where Are Canada’s PhDs Employed?

Jan 06, 2015
Daniel Munro
Principal Research Associate
The Conference Board of Canada

Each year, Canadian universities award doctoral degrees to thousands of individuals who have mastered a field of knowledge and developed advanced research skills. By 2011, Canadian institutions were graduating more than 6,000 new doctorates annually, while many more Canadians were earning PhDs at institutions abroad, and thousands more PhDs were being recruited through immigration.1 Roughly half of all PhDs in Canada are held by immigrants. With 208,480 people holding PhDs—including 161,805 held by those aged 25 to 64—Canada has nearly 50 per cent more people with doctorates today than was the case in 2001.2

While the number of PhDs has increased dramatically, questions are being asked about whether the economy and society can support and benefit from them all. Doctorates have low unemployment (4.1 per cent)—below the rate for all Canadians (6.2 per cent)—and a high labour force participation rate (89.3 per cent)—higher than that of all Canadians (80.3 per cent).3 But few are employed as university professors—the standard career goal of most doctoral students. In fact, only 18.6 per cent of PhDs are employed as full-time university professors, and fewer still hold tenured or tenure-track positions.4 Where are the other 80 to 90 per cent of Canada’s PhDs employed?

Inside and Outside the Academy

As the chart shows, nearly 40 per cent of Canada’s PhDs are employed in the post-secondary education (PSE) sector in some capacity—as full- or part-time university professors, research and teaching assistants, full- or part-time college instructors, or postdoctoral scholars. But many of these positions are temporary or transitional. For example, postdoctoral positions are by nature temporary, lasting between one and five years before a scholar moves on to a more permanent position inside or outside the academy.5

More than three-fifths of PhDs are employed in diverse careers outside the academy—in industry, government, and non-government organizations—drawing on their skills as researchers and critical thinkers to improve policy, organizational performance, innovation, and economic and social well-being. Seventeen per cent hold positions in the natural and applied sciences; 11 per cent in health-related occupations; and another 11 per cent in law, social, community, and government services and education other than PSE. Many are employed as managers across the economy (9.5 per cent) or in other business, finance, and administrative occupations (5.3 per cent). And some work in art, culture, recreation, and sport (2.3 per cent), sales and service (2.6 per cent), and other occupations (1.4 per cent).6 Indeed, employment in diverse, non-academic careers is the norm, not the exception, for PhDs in Canada.

Preparation for Diverse Careers

Highly educated researchers, with advanced knowledge and a range of technical, critical, creative, and other skills, play vital roles in Canada’s economy and society. But there are concerns that Canadian PhD programs are not doing enough to prepare graduates for the non-academic careers that most of them will have. Many students and employers hold that graduates have inadequate professional skills—including skills to identify and land jobs, and to perform effectively in diverse careers. At the same time, many employers underestimate the skills that PhDs already have and the contributions they can make. Together, these perceptions limit employer demand for doctorates and contribute to the difficult transitions PhDs experience as they pursue diverse careers beyond the academy.

If Canada is to achieve maximum benefits from the knowledge and skills of doctoral graduates, a better understanding and awareness of the value they bring will be needed. Additionally, more will be needed to prepare doctoral students and graduates to learn about, find, and succeed in careers outside the academy.

The Conference Board’s Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education is conducting research on the career and employment outcomes of PhDs; the contributions they make to health and economic, social, cultural, and artistic well-being; and what can be done to ease their transition into diverse careers. Watch for future commentaries and a full report in 2015. Or, get involved—if you lead a university initiative that helps develop doctoral students’ professional skills, the Conference Board would like to speak with you. Contact Diana MacKay (Executive Director, Centre for Skills and PSE) at for details.

1    Statistics Canada, CANSIM 477-0020.

2    Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey, Catalogue no. 99-012-X2011035.

3    Ibid.

4    Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey, Catalogue no. 99-012-X2011035, and custom tabulations.

5    J. Mitchell, V. Walker, R. Annan, T. Corkery, N. Goel, L. Harvey, D. Kent, J. Peters, S. Vilches, The 2013 Canadian Postdoc Survey: Painting a Picture of Canadian Postdoctoral Scholars (Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars and Mitacs, 2013), v.

6    Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey, Catalogue no. 99-012-X2011035, and custom tabulations.