Skills and talent

Universities equip Canadians with skills for today and tomorrow.

With many jobs at risk of automation, several studies show that university graduates will be best able to adapt to an automated future.

Employees discuss work around a table.

Spotlight on

manager explaining task

Learn how Ontario Tech University’s Automotive Centre of Excellence is driving world-leading research and development in a rapidly changing automotive industry here.

Image: Woman sitting in a computer lab. Text: Helping Canadians adapt to changing workforce needs With rapidly changing technologies and a shifting Alberta economy, Andrea Vega recognized the need for skilled experts in the cybersecurity field and left her job in real estate to pursue a new career path.

Learn about the cybersecurity certificate program launched by Mount Royal University and York University to prepare students for one of the world’s fastest-growing technology fields here.

Building resilience

Universities are innovating in teaching and learning, providing crucial hands-on and international learning experiences, and helping Canadians at every stage of their careers forge new pathways to opportunity.

Bar chart illustrating the proportion of tasks susceptible to automation in occupations, by educational attainment. No certificate, diploma or degree (49.5%); high school (46.8%); apprenticeship/trades certificate/diploma (51.8%); college, cegep or other non-university (41.5%); university below bachelor's (37.1%); above bachelor's (26.6%). Source: Upskilling and Reskilling: Examining Universities’ Role in Mid-Career Worker Resilience in the New Age of Work by Dan Munro.

Job-ready graduates

Work-integrated learning programs, like co-ops, internships and practicums provide students with experience working in their field and the opportunity to start building their professional networks before entering the job market. Universities support the call by the Canadian Business/Higher Education Roundtable for access to work-integrated learning for 100 percent of Canadian postsecondary students.

  • 80%
    of employers

    Four out of five employers surveyed say co-op and internship students are a source of new talent and potential future employees.

    Source: Leger Marketing employer survey for Universities Canada, 2014.
  • 56%
    benefit from hands-on learning

    More than half of today’s undergraduates benefit from experiential learning – such as co-ops, internships and service learning – as part of their university education.

    Source: Canadian University Survey Consortium, Graduating University Student Survey, 2018.
  • 25%
    growth in co-ops

    Enrolment in co-op programs at universities has jumped by 25 percent in recent years, from 53,000 students in 2006 to 65,000 students in 2013.

    Source: Based on data from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education, 2006-2013.

Supporting workers at every stage of their careers

Canadians at varying stages in their careers will need support adapting to the future of work. Universities are embracing the chance to help mid-career professionals up-skill and re-skill with flexible programs that help students stay competitive.

  • 90%
    of employed Canadians value lifelong learning

    Nearly 9 out of 10 employed Canadians agree that lifelong learning is crucial for career success.

    Source: Ipsos poll on behalf of Royal Roads University, October 2016.

Keeping Canada’s workforce competitive

International learning experiences equip students with the 21st century skills they need to adjust to the shifting nature of work – abilities like problem-solving, adaptability, collaboration and communication with people from other backgrounds. Canada’s business leaders know these competencies give them an important competitive edge.

  • 11%
    study abroad

    Only 11% of Canadian undergraduates undertake an international mobility experience over the course of their degree, despite the clear benefits of global study to building future skills.

    Source: Study Group on Global Education, Global Education for Canadians: Equipping Young Canadians to Succeed at Home & Abroad, November 2017.
  • 80%
    see career benefit

    More than 80% of employers that hire graduates with international and intercultural experience say these recruits enhance their company’s competitiveness.

    Source: Leger Marketing employer survey for Universities Canada, 2014.
  • 6.1%
    more in earnings

    Graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds who were mobile during their degree earned, on average, 6.1% more than those with no global experience.

    Source: Gone International: Mobility Works, Universities UK International, March 2, 2017.

Nurturing entrepreneurship

Canada’s universities nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of students across disciplines, help incubate students’ business ideas and spin-off hundreds of new companies every year – driving Canadian business development and fueling economies across the country.

  • 58%
    of entrepreneurs have a university degree

    Entrepreneurship drives Canada’s economy and 58% of Canadian entrepreneurs are university students or graduates.

    Source: Universities Canada and Startup Canada, Joint survey, 2017.
  • 60
    university entrepreneurial hubs

    Canadian universities are home to more than 60 business incubators, accelerators and start-up programs that help fuel Canada’s entrepreneurial economic growth.

    Source: Universities Canada and Startup Canada, Joint survey, 2017.
  • 40%
    of student entrepreneurs took an entrepreneurship program

    40% of student/graduate entrepreneurs have taken a university entrepreneurship program or course.

    Source: Universities Canada and Startup Canada, Joint survey, 2017.

Made-in-Canada solutions

Through creativity, tenacity and passion, Canadian researchers are tackling the big challenges facing our communities and or world – from climate change, to life-threatening disease, to migration.


Universities Canada