Education and Training

This page provides labour market information by educational attainment.

Some relevant definitions are:

  • Less than high school - this includes those who attended but did not complete high school and those with a primary education grade 8 or lower.
  • High school graduate – received a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Some postsecondary – worked toward, but did not complete a trade certificate, certificate, diploma, or degree beyond the high school level.
  • Postsecondary certificate or diploma – includes a completed apprenticeship trades certification, college certificate or diploma, or certificates below a bachelor from a university.
  • Bachelor’s degree – attained a university bachelor’s degree.
  • Above a bachelor – attained a university degree beyond a bachelor’s.

Educational Attainment

In 2021, 64.4% of adults in Nova Scotia had a level of education beyond a high school diploma as their highest educational attainment. Of those:

  • The Nova Scotia percentage is slightly lower than the Canadian level of 66.5%.
  • The percentage of Nova Scotian adults (17.9%) with a bachelor’s degree is lower than the Canadian percentage (21.4%).
  • Unexpectedly, the proportion of the province’s adults with education above a bachelor's degree has fallen over the past two years. This decline follows a four-year upward trend, falling from 10.9% in 2019 to 9.5% in 2021.

Titled “Educational Attainment, 2021, Nova Scotia and Canada ages 25 years and over”. Vertical bar chart with dark blue = Canada, light blue = NS. Horizontal labels are “less than high school”, “high school graduate”, “some postsecondary”, “postsecondary below bachelors”, “bachelors degree”, “above bachelor’s degree”.

Unemployment Rate

Unemployment rates are typically lower at rising levels of education. This has been the case at both national and provincial levels. The economic disruptions from COVID-19 weakened this relationship in 2020, but the economic recovery in 2021 has re-established it. 

  • Workers with less than a high school education had the highest unemployment levels in Nova Scotia in 2021 at 12.9%.
  • Those with a high school diploma or some postsecondary education fared better, at 9.8% and 9.9% respectively.
  • Workers with a postsecondary certificate or diploma had an unemployment rate of 7.6%, while those with a university degree had an unemployment rate of only 4.9%.

Unemployment rates in Nova Scotia are typically higher than the national level (and were 1.0% higher overall in 2021). The gap tends to narrow with increasing levels of education.

  • Workers with less than a high school education had an unemployment rate that was 2.1 percentage points higher than the national average in 2021.
  • Workers with university degrees had an unemployment rate 0.1 percentage points lower than the national average.

 

Titled “Unemployment Rate by Educational Attainment, 2021, Nova Scotia and Canada 25 and over”. Horizontal bar chart with dark blue = Canada, light blue = NS. Vertical labels from top to bottom are “above bachelor’s degree”, “bachelors degree”, “postsecondary below bachelors”, “some postsecondary”, “high school graduate”, “less than high school”.

Income

Nova Scotia’s employment income data shows that, on average, individuals with higher levels of education have higher annual employment incomes.

  • The median income for those with postsecondary educational attainment below bachelor’s level was $9,390 higher than those with high school graduation and $14,155 higher than those with less than high school.
  • The differences were even greater when compared to those with a university bachelor’s degree and above.
  • The median income for those with a university bachelor’s degree and above was $29,538 higher than those with high school graduation and $34,303 higher than those with less than high school education.

Titled “Median Employment Income by Educational Attainment, Nova Scotia 2016”. Vertical bar chart with dark blue = all work activity, light blue = worked full-time/full-year. Horizontal chart labels from left to right are “less than high school”, “high school graduate”, postsecondary below bachelor’s degree”, and “university, bachelor’s degree and above”.

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