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Educational attainment is also tied to job security, and the COVID-19 pandemic cast a renewed light on this. Those with higher levels of education were better positioned to withstand the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic, due in part to being more likely to work in industries that were suited to remote work. According to the Labour Force Survey, those with a bachelor's degree or higher were less likely to feel the initial unemployment shocks in April 2020, and their employment rate recovered faster, regaining pre-pandemic levels by November 2020. The employment rates of those with lower levels of education largely did not return to pre-pandemic levels until autumn 2021. Nonetheless, many frontline workers with lower levels of education were crucial to keeping Canada running during the shutdowns in the first waves of the pandemic, as they worked in areas such as grocery stores and gas stations, as cleaners, and in health care support.
In contrast, the number of working-age apprenticeship certificate holders has stagnated or fallen in three major trades fields—construction trades (+0.6%), mechanic and repair technologies (-7.8%) and precision production (-10.0%)—as fewer young workers replace the baby boomers who are retiring.
Recent immigrants made up nearly half of the growth in the share of Canadians with a bachelor's degree or higher. However, some immigrants' talents remain underutilized, as over one-quarter of all immigrants with foreign degrees were working in jobs that require, at most, a high school diploma. This is twice as high as the overqualification rate for Canadian-born or Canadian-educated degree holders.
The Daily — Canada leads the G7 for the most educated workforce, thanks to immigrants, young adults and a strong college sector, but is experiencing significant losses in apprenticeship certificate holders in key trades
The number of degree holders in the working-age population rose by nearly one-fifth from 2016 to 2021, driven by recent immigrants and young adults, but the number of apprenticeship certificate holders in key trades fields declined.