A number is never just a number: The skills gap trope

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Number 1

Canada has more workers with post-secondary training than any other industrialized country. More than half of Canadians aged 25-34 have a post-secondary diploma or certificate; 28.9 per cent held a university degree in 2006 -- up from 14.9 per cent in 1981.  (Source and source)


Number of Canadian university students who complete at least one co-op placement, practicum, internship or field placement during the course of their degree. (Source)


Percentage of Canadians aged 15-29 who are estimated to have been underemployed in 2013. About a third of young Canadians work in part-time jobs, many of which are low paying and temporary. (Source)



Percentage of very recent immigrants to Canada, aged 25-54, who were among the unemployed in 2012. If there was a true labour shortage, newcomers would rapidly find work. (Source)


Percentage of Canadian youth armed with a university degree who were employed full-time, year-round in 2005 performing duties that did not require a degree. (Source)


Percentage of employers who told a Bank of Canada survey in the last quarter of 2013 that they face a labour shortage that restricts their ability to meet demand. That's lower than at any time between 1997 and mid-2008, when recession struck. (Source)


Canada's job creation ranking among 34 OECD countries (cumulative change in employment rate between 2008 and 2012). Net job creation lags 1.4 points behind population growth. (Source)


Percentage drop in the amount of money Canadian businesses spent on employee training (per employee) in 2013 compared to 1993. (Source)


Canada's ranking in informal job-related education -- that's a drop since 2003. (Source)


Number of hours of informal job-related education Canadian adults received in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 59 hours. In Denmark, adults get 105 hours of informal work-related education. (Source)


Highly fallible data source the federal government partially relied upon when it trumped up claims of a skills gap in Canada. (Source)


The conclusion based on a review of the "best peer-reviewed research in Canada" is that there "is no evidence of a national labour shortage at present or in the foreseeable future." (Source)


The word Pulitzer Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman ascribes to the skills gap myth in that country, saying it's time to "kill this zombie." (Source)

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's Trish Hennessy has long been a fan of Harper Magazine's one-page list of eye-popping statistics, Harper's Index. Instead of wishing for a Canadian version to magically appear, she's created her own index -- a monthly listing of numbers about Canada and its place in the world. Hennessy's Index -- A number is never just a number -- comes out at the beginning of each month.

Image: Jared Rodriguez/Truthout/flickr

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