Formal, job-related training on the rise

About 35 per cent of Canadian workers had training in 2002, up from 29 per cent in 1997
||Last Updated: 01/17/2005

One out of every three workers — or about 4.8 million employees — participated in some type of formal job-related training in 2002, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

New data from the

Adult Education Training Survey

shows that 35 per cent of workers aged 25 to 64 underwent some formal job-related training in 2002. Contrast that to 1997 when 29 per cent of workers reported having taken some type of formal training.

Participation rates rose within the ranks of both men and women, as well as across all age groups and all provinces.

The largest increase in participation was among older workers aged 55 to 64. The data shows that 23 per cent of older workers had taken form job-related training in 2002, up from 15 per cent in 1997.

Historically, the tendency has been for younger workers to have the highest participation rates, and this was again the case in 2002. Four out of every 10 workers (42 per cent) aged 25 to 34 had formal, job-related training, up from 33 per cent in 1997.

More than two million Canadian workers received no training

Slightly more than 2.2 million workers had not taken any formal training in 2002, nor during the five-year period between 1997 and 2001.

In addition, they had no expectations of taking any in the three years after the survey. More than half of these workers had no education beyond high school and two-thirds were over the age of 45.

Number of hours spent training remains steady

On average, workers who participated in training devoted about the same number of hours in 2002 as they had five years earlier.

In 2002, participants in formal, job-related training received about 150 hours of training, the equivalent of about 25 days based on a six-hour training day. This was virtually unchanged from 156 hours, or 26 days, in 1997.

Statistics Canada said the average hours of training per employee mask considerable variation in the experiences of different workers. Many participants took training of short duration — about 44 per cent received less than 31 hours (or five days) of training in 2002. An additional 34 per cent took between 31 and 120 hours (or six to 20 days) of training.

The youngest workers, those aged 25 to 34, devoted the most time to training, about 200 hours, in 2002 and 1997. Workers aged 55 to 64 spent an average of 88 hours in training in 2002, more than double the 43 hours in 1997.

Slight increase in employer-supported training

For the purposes of the survey, an employer was considered to have supported training if they had done any of a range of activities, including paying for the training, allowing the trainee to work a flexible schedule to accommodate training or providing transportation to the training site.

Despite the increase in overall participation rates between 1997 and 2002, rates for training supported specifically by employers increased only slightly for workers in most age and educational groups.

About 25 per cent of all adult workers reported taking employer-supported training programs in 2002, up from 22 per cent five years earlier.

Across the country, the rate rose substantially in only two provinces: Quebec and New Brunswick. In Quebec, 24 per cent of adult workers had taken employer-supported training, up from 15 per cent in 1997. In New Brunswick, the proportion rose from 19 per cent to 26 per cent.

More workers appear to have taken training on their own initiative and at their own expense in 2002. Of all participants in formal job-related training, 72 per cent were involved in employer-sponsored training in 2002, down from 79 per cent in 1997.

In 2002, 35 per cent of workers employed in professional and managerial positions reported taking employer-supported training, twice the proportion among blue collar workers (16 per cent.)

Participation rates for employer-supported training rose substantially in three industries where they tend to be high to begin with: public administration, utilities and educational services.

Self-directed learning almost as common as formal training

Job-related training is not restricted to formal training — workers can also learn informally on their own. For the first time, Statistics Canada collected information on self-directed, or informal, learning to provide a more complete picture of training.

Self-directed learning includes, among other things, such activities as seeking advice from someone knowledgeable, using the Internet or other software and observing someone performing a task.

In 2002, 33 per cent of working adults engaged in some form of self-directed, informal learning activity related to their job in the four weeks prior to the survey, making it almost as common as formal training. Rates were slighter higher for women.

The survey collected data on participation on formal and informal job-related training from more than 25,000 adults aged 25 and over.

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