graduation 1695185 6401

- by David Clark

Education is important at the personal and community, well, actually the country, level. The better educated the population, the better off society is. Well, that is my thesis.

As education levels have changed in Ontario since the 2001 census so have the levels in Grey, Bruce, and Owen Sound; they have improved but are still, except for college and trades, below provincial levels.

Research has shown that higher education brings higher employment earnings.

And, yes, the media has highlighted individuals who, lacking higher education, have gotten rich and others with PhDs driving taxis or flipping burgers. But, to be sure, those are, generally, anomalies. I say “generally” because we do know foreign-trained medical graduates have hit significant barriers to working in their fields. The correlation of education and income is very strong.

Economies need a mix of skills within its workforce which come from different levels and types of education and training. Economic development and business organisations often promote an area as having the skills and talent needed by employers, especially in (attempts) to recruit business, industry, and entrepreneurs. Expansion of that discussion is for another time. The following discussion focusses on the state of education in Grey and Bruce.

What I want to do here is present a profile of Grey’s and Bruce’s education levels in 2001 and any changes from the 2021 census. This is not a diagnostics article, but rather one to provide a snapshot of the current state of affairs.

2001 Census 

Figure 1 illustrates the percentage of people, aged 20 to 64 (inclusive), and their  varying levels of education, with comparison to Ontario for 2001. Owen Sound is  reflected in the rates for Grey County, but is also separated out as it is the largest  single town in the reference area, and is the county seat. It has some importance.


In 2001, those not completing high school were about four percentage points higher than Ontario’s rate. The rate for those completing high school was more or less on par with Ontario, although Owen Sound was slightly higher.  

The rates for completing post-secondary education (PSE) below a Bachelor  degree, essentially college and trades, was higher in Grey Bruce than Ontario’s by four to seven percentage points.  

Finally, the rate for those completing university (Bachelor, Master, PhD,  medical, etc.) was about 10 percentage points lower than Ontario’s rate. 

2021 Census 

With the 2021 census, we see significant improvements across the board (Figure 2). Those with no high school dropped around 10 percentage points for  Grey and Bruce but the rates are still higher than for Ontario. Owen Sound’s rate  was still higher than Grey, Bruce, and Ontario. Owen Sound’s rate was higher than the others.  

There was little change in Grey and Bruce for those with only high school, but  again the rates are higher than for Ontario and highest in Owen Sound.  

College rates were higher than Ontario’s (seven to 11 percentage points)  although that was at the expense of lower university rates than that for Ontario, by about 15 to 18 percentage points.  

In 2021, Owen Sound had the lowest university rate; the highest high school  only and no high school rates; and a college rate higher than Ontario but lower  than each of Grey and Bruce. 


Those are a lot of numbers to digest but Table 1 summarises education levels by “No PSE” and “PSE”, with rates below 50 per cent highlighted.. (A note of explanation:  See end note “1” regarding the 5-year gap in the data.) 


Overall, Ontario has seen a rise in education levels of its population, and  although Grey and Bruce saw a similar rise they still lagged behind, and Owen  Sound especially has not done as well.  

Figure 3 illustrates the relationship of median income (MI) and post secondary education (PSE): As PSE levels rise, MI levels are higher. The data are for Grey, Bruce, Ontario, and Owen Sound. The scale (i.e., the specific number) is not important for our understanding of the relationship. We do know from other  studies that the higher a person’s education level, the higher that person’s income is  likely to be. 


A PSE number is the percentage of total population that has education above the  high school level. The MI numbers have been divided by 1000, and can be read as 1000s. So, 57.291 is actually $57,291.

Although the census provides us with data to develop a profile of education levels, we do not know IF people are actually using their higher education levels in studies-related employment situations.

Some people undertake PSE studies in a  college programme (e.g., ECE, PSW) hoping to become employed in that filed upon graduation.

Sometimes that does not work out and they end up in minimum-wage, part-time work in retail, unrelated to their studies. This happens with college and  university graduates. The data do not allow us to determine if these people are in  the labour force or not.

The profiles do represent “potential” skills available to potential workers, and are related to higher community median income.

Note 1: The age categories of publically available data differ for 2001 and 2021, creating a five-year gap in data. For 2001 education data were available for age categories of 15 to 64 and 20 to 64. I chose the latter as it excludes those still in high school (or dropped out) and I wanted to capture those most likely in the labour pool. In 2001, by age twenty, most youth have completed high school and some  might have completed college or a 3-year undergraduate degree. The 2021 census provided data for age groups 15 years and older (so well beyond working age) and 25 to 64 years, which capture those in the labour pool.

David I.M. Clark - MA, BES, BA(Hon), MAd(Diploma) is a local Independent Researcher (and Builder of Cigar Box Guitars and Basses)





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