Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Lesson 6 - The changing nature of work, employment, and education in Canada

This lesson was written by The Critical Thinking Consortium with editorial input and subject matter expertise from Statistics Canada's Education Outreach Program team, Labour Statistics Division and Culture, Tourism and Centre for Education Statistics Division.

Overview

Learners will focus on two key areas:

  • identifying the opportunities and challenges associated with changes in work, employment, and education in the provinces and territories
  • assessing government plans to address these opportunities and challenges.

Learners will examine 2006 Census results and create headlines that identify and summarize the challenges and opportunities associated with changing labour market conditions and education levels. They will then assess actual plans created by provincial and territorial governments to address these opportunities and challenges. To conclude, learners will use statistical information to develop recommendations designed to improve the government plans they have examined.

Suggested grade level and subject areas

Secondary – Grades 9 to 12
Social studies, Political science

Objectives

Learners will demonstrate:

  • understanding of work and employment trends, and the educational portrait of Canadians in the provinces and territories
  • understanding of different perspectives on demographic shifts
  • ability to draw inferences from statistical data
  • ability to effectively assess statements and generalizations using statistical data
  • ability to effectively support decisions and develop plausible recommendations using appropriate evidence.

Materials

Classroom Instructions

Activity 1: Explore perspectives

Begin the activity by displaying the following statement from the 2006 census:

'There were 25,800 fewer young people aged 25 to 34 who had a trade certificate in mechanics and repairs than adults aged 55 to 64.'

Invite learners to consider what groups or individuals might view the statement as a challenge and what groups or individuals might view the statement as an opportunity. Encourage learners to consider specific demographic groups (e.g., teen aged children, seniors, men, women), geographic areas (e.g., Alberta), or occupations (e.g., welders, fishery workers, retail workers) and to explain their selections. For example, learners might indicate that building contractors could view this statement as a challenge because of the difficulty in finding workers who are skilled in trades. Learners might also indicate that immigrants who are skilled in trades could view this as an opportunity to find meaningful work.

Organize learners into small teams and provide each learner with a copy of Handout 1: Explore perspectives. Instruct teams to identify three additional groups that might view the statement as a challenge and three groups that might view the statement as an opportunity. Remind learners to provide an explanation for each group they identify.

Invite teams to share their choices and discuss why there are different perspectives on the statement. Learners might indicate that perspectives can differ depending on values and needs.

Activity 2: Create news headlines

Begin by providing learners with a headline from a recent newspaper article. Ask learners to determine if the headline is effective. Encourage learners to share their ideas, and then ask what criteria could be used to assess the effectiveness of a headline.

The following criteria and guiding questions could be used to assess the effectiveness of a headline:

  • Accuracy: Does the headline accurately reflect statistical evidence and trends?
  • Information: Does the headline provide information that is relevant to the topic?
  • Brevity: Is the headline short and concise?
  • Creativity: Does the headline demonstrate creative use of literary devices such as alliteration or allusion?

You could give learners some recent headlines and have them practice using these criteria.

Organize learners into small groups and give each learner a copy of Handout 2(a): Create news headlines. Assign each team a province or territory. Tell learners that their task is to create headlines that effectively describe recent employment trends and education circumstances in their assigned province or territory.

Census questions relating to education changed substantially between 2001 and 2006, principally to reflect developments in Canada's education system.  This means that comparisons with data from previous censuses are limited. The only data that can be compared to the 2001 Census consist of the number of individuals who have a Bachelor's degree or higher as their highest level of educational attainment because these categories relating to university degrees attained in 2006 were similar to those used in 2001. The questions in 2006 concerning certification at other institutions of learning, such as trade schools and colleges, changed substantially from 2001.

Give each group a copy of Handout 2(b): Links to supporting statistics. Ask learners to examine the statistical information for their assigned province or territory and identify the two most significant changes occurring in employment and education. Encourage learners to look for key words and phrases such as 'increased,' 'decreased,' 'dropped' and 'climbed' when attempting to identify significant changes. Due to the limitations on historical comparability for the education data mentioned above only, provide where necessary additional examples to aid comparisons between population segments. Examples of comparisons may include young to older persons, male to female, immigrants to non-immigrants, one province or territory to another. Tell them that the questions in the left-hand column of Handout 2(a), on employment and education, will guide them in analysing the statistical information and identifying significant changes.

Suggest that learners consider the following criteria for assessing the significance of change:

Breadth of impact: How many people or how widely felt are the effects of a change?
Depth of impact: How major or dramatic are the differences caused by a change?
Duration of impact: For what length of time are the effects felt?

For example, consider the opening of a new store in a community. The breadth of the impact is small if only three new jobs are created, but a megastore that creates hundreds of new jobs will affect many people. The depth of the impact on people’s lives may be limited if the new store does not affect the operations of existing businesses, damage the environment, or influence consumers’ habits. However, a new megastore can have a deep impact if it causes smaller businesses to close, damages the environment or contributes to the homogenization of the community. The duration of the impact can be limited if changes in consumer behaviour or in the operations of other businesses are temporary. On the other hand, the effects will be felt for a much longer time if these changes are permanent.

(For more details on teaching learners to use these criteria, see Lesson 1, Exploring the Impacts of Population Change, Activity 4.)

Once they have created an effective headline for each significant finding, ask learners to  imagine two quotes that might appear in a story associated with that headline. The quotes should reflect two different perspectives on the story: one that views the finding as a challenge, the other as an opportunity. To review the concept of perspectives, learners could refer to their completed
Handout 1: Explore perspectives.

Invite learners to share with the class the headlines they created for each province or territory. Consider recording the observations on a large map of Canada, creating a picture of employment changes and education conditions across the country.

As an extension, have learners use their headlines and associated statistical information to develop inferences in response to the following questions:

  • Which provinces or territories have the strongest economies?
  • Which provinces or territories will face the greatest challenges in the next five years? the next 20 years?
  • Do the opportunities in any particular province or territory create challenges for other provinces or territories?

Assess learner responses using Evaluation rubric 1: Assessing the headlines and quotes.

Activity 3: Assess government plans

Begin the activity by asking learners to identify the most prominent challenges and opportunities associated with employment and education in their province or territory. (They could refer to their Handout 2(a): Create news headlines.) Challenges and opportunities identified by learners might include unemployment or growth in employment, shortages of workers with specific skills or shortages of required training programs.

Inform learners that governments attempt to address such challenges and opportunities by creating yearly budgets. These budgets often introduce funding, plans or programs designed to encourage opportunities and resolve challenges. Instruct learners that their task is to assess how effectively the budget for their assigned province or territory addresses the challenges and opportunities in employment and education.

Explain that while learners identified challenges and opportunities using 2006 Census data, governments must also refer to more recent sources to plan their budgets. To get a clearer picture of current conditions, governments supplement census data, which are only collected every five years, with more recent sources such as Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey.

Organize learners into small groups and assign each group a province or territory.
Provide each learner with a copy of Handout 3(b): Links to government sites budget press releases and
Handout 3(a): Assess government plans.

Instruct learners to locate the budget for their province or territory and identify excerpts from the budget that address challenges and opportunities in employment and education. Guide learners in recording these excerpts in the middle column of the chart. Encourage learners to record three government plans addressing employment concerns and three addressing education concerns.

Once learners have recorded details of plans from the assigned budget in the left hand column of the chart, ask them to assess the potential effectiveness of these plans. Guide learners in assessing whether the plans are accurate, relevant and specific, using the following questions:

  • Accurate: Does the budget accurately reflect current statistical evidence about provincial or territorial employment trends and education conditions?
  • Relevant: Does the budget directly target the employment and education opportunities and challenges faced by the province or territory?
  • Specific: Does the budget include specific details about types of programs, jobs, costs, and results designed to address employment and education opportunities and challenges faced by the province or territory?

Encourage learners to record their judgments as a point on the continua found in the right hand column of the chart and to note their supporting evidence. Remind learners to use the criteria and statistical information to guide their assessments.

Learners should now be prepared to make a final judgment on the potential effectiveness of government plans to address employment and education issues. Guide learners in recording their overall ranking of the effectiveness of the plans in the space provided in the handout.

Encourage learners to share the assessments of their assigned budget plans with other members of the class. Invite learners to reflect on the budget plans and consider the following questions:

  • What challenges and opportunities are most often addressed in government plans?  
  • What qualities do government plans appear to share regardless of the province or territory? Why might this be?
  • What are the most notable omissions or gaps in the budget plans?

Assess learner responses using Evaluation rubric 2: Assessing the evaluation.

Activity 4: Create recommendations

Inform learners that their challenge is to improve the government plans for addressing opportunities and challenges in employment and education. Provide each learner with a copy of Handout 4: Create recommendations. Instruct learners to refer to their Handout 3(a): Assess government plans, and select the three excerpts that were the least accurate, relevant, and specific. Guide learners in recording these excerpts in left-hand column of Handout 4.

Encourage learners to consider how each excerpt might be improved, based on statistical information found in Handout 2(b): Links to supporting statistics. Learners should record this statistical evidence in the space provided in the right hand column.

Instruct learners to rework the excerpt to make it into a new more accurate, relevant and specific recommendation. Then they should record their new recommendation in the space provided in the right hand column. Invite learners to share their new recommendations with other members of the class.

Assess learner responses using Evaluation rubric 3: Assessing the recommendations.