Canada Employed

  • New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for an “Education Revolution” in Canada

    TORONTO - March 11, 2020



    • Students Not Prepared with the Skills Needed for the Workplace

    • Support for Career Experience in School and Continued Education



    As parts of the country are grappling with school strikes, a new national poll released today shows that nearly 9 in 10 Canadian employees, or 89%, say an education revolution is needed in the country to better prepare students for the modern workforce. An education revolution represents a whole new approach to education, skills training and learning.

    Further, 4 in 5 employees say that schools are not preparing students with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace (80%) and that the education system has failed to evolve to meet the needs of the workforce (82%).

    The Harris Poll study, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals and conducted among more than 600 Canadian employees ages 18 or older in December 2019, explores what an educational revolution could entail.

    "Canadians want an education revolution, a new approach to education, that includes workforce skills and hands-on experience while at school. They strongly believe in continued education," said Express CEO Bill Stoller. "Support for a change in education is overwhelming and unanimous across every demographic."

    A strong majority of Canadian employees (89%) indicate that they wish they had more exposure to the world of work while they were in school, while 76% wish that they had been better prepared to deal with transitioning from school to work.

    Few Canadian employees use their education in their current job.

    Even though the poll shows that 54% of Canadian employees with at least an associate degree work in the same field or profession in which they received their degrees or certifications, 67% of all employees say they use little, or none at all, of their education in their current job. More than 3 in 4, 77%, agree that most of what they do day to day at their job, they never learned in school.

    What is an Education Revolution?

    What does an education revolution entail? An overwhelming majority, 9 out of 10 or 87%, believe getting a degree should require on-the-job experience, not just coursework. Only 59% believe four-year universities or colleges are the best avenue to career success. 

    Eighty-four per cent believe it takes skills typically not taught in school to get a job. Many would like to see basic life and career skills taught in high school.

    Respondents were asked, "Which of the following, if any, do you wish your high school would have offered/taught to better prepare you for the workforce?"

    Money Management 64%
    How to handle real-life workplace situations 59%
    Interviewing 55%
    Filing taxes 49%
    Networking skills 48%
    Other   6%
    Nothing   9%

    Despite the clear demand for more career experience while at school, participation in work experience programs remain relatively low. 

    Respondents were asked, "Which of the following work experience programs, if any, did you participate in when you were in school?"

    Co-op placements 26%
    Internships 19%
    Apprenticeships 17%
    Shadowing 16%
    None of these 45%

    Continued learning is essential.

    There is an equally strong agreement that continued education after school is important.

    The vast majority (86%) agree that anyone who doesn't continue to learn in their career (e.g., staying up to date on new techniques, advancements, etc.) will be left behind in the workforce. Among those who have not gone back to school after entering the workforce, most (82%) think it would be useful, and only around 1 in 5 (22%) say the reason they have not gone back to school is because they have already acquired the necessary degrees or certifications for their career.

    Who should pay for education?

    Nearly 2 in 5 employees in Canada (39%) believe the government should be responsible for paying for post-secondary education, 31% say this burden should rest with the student, and 26% say the student's parents or family members should pay for it. Notably, views on this differ across generations, with Millennials the most likely to say government should pay for college (millennials, 49%; Gen X, 36%; boomers/seniors, 29%), while boomers/seniors are the most likely to cite the student should pay (millennials, 24%; Gen X, 28%; boomers/seniors, 43%). 

    Survey Methodology

    The survey was conducted online within Canada by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Dec. 5 and Dec. 30, 2019, among 630 Canadian employees (defined as adults ages 18+ in Canada who are employed full-time, part-time, or self-employed and have at least a high school degree). Figures are weighted where necessary by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, income, marital status, employment, household size, and propensity to be online to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available upon request.

    Generations defined as: Gen Z (ages 18-24), millennials (ages 25-38), Gen X (ages 39-54), and boomers/seniors (ages 55+).

    About the Survey


    If you would like to arrange for an interview to discuss this topic, please contact Adria Minsky at 
    (416) 620-7111 or email  

    About Bill Stoller

    William H. "Bill" Stoller is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has more than 825 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa, and beginning in 2020 will expand to Australia and New Zealand. Since its inception, Express has put more than 8 million people to work worldwide.

    About Express Employment Professionals

    At Express Employment Professionals, we're in the business of people. From job seekers to client companies, Express helps people thrive and businesses grow. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, our international network of franchises offer localized staffing solutions to the communities they serve, employing 552,000 people across North America in 2019. For more information, visit