Manitobans trail the Canadian average in almost every key education category.
Data from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) released Wednesday by Statistics Canada show Manitobans over the age of 25 have attained lower levels of education than the average Canadian.
The NHS found 53.6 per cent of Manitobans aged 25 or over have some form of post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree, compared to 59.6 per cent of all Canadians.
Among that same age group, 17.9 per cent of us have graduated from college, compared to 19.6 per cent nationally, and for those with university degrees, 20.4 per cent of Manitobans 25 or older have at least one degree compared to 23.3 per cent of all Canadians. In trades, we trail 10.7 per cent to 12 per cent nationally.
The province also produces fewer high school grads, with 21.4 per cent of Manitobans having not even graduated from high school, compared to 17.3 per cent nationally.
Education Minister Nancy Allan referred all comment to Advanced Education Minister Erin Selby, who said through an aide university and college participation among all Manitobans is up 44 per cent since the 1999-2000 school year, when the NDP took office.
University participation among all Manitobans is up "from 16.8 per cent to 26 per cent (1990 to 2011)... college participation rates have also been slowly and consistently increasing since 1990, rising from 3.8 per cent to seven per cent in 2011," Selby said in the statement, which did not address the specific Statistic Canada data released Wednesday.
Tory advanced education critic Stu Briese (Agassiz) said the data show, "We're a long ways behind everyone else. After 14 years of NDP government, why aren't our numbers any better than that?"
There are clear indicators what our young people are choosing to do with their lives.
Graduating health professionals are way, way above the national average -- in universities (13.9 per cent of graduates to 10.9 per cent nationally); colleges (22.1 per cent of grads, compared to 17.6 per cent across Canada); and the trades (15.1 per cent to 10.3 per cent).
In the 1990s, fewer Manitoba students were enrolled in health care, because there weren't enough jobs, said Lori Lamont, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's vice-president of interprofessional practice and chief nursing officer.
"We (now) have an aging workforce in the health care sector. The average age of a nurse in Manitoba is 47," and many retire at 55 because of the physical strain and late shifts, Lamont said.
In the trades, 19.5 per cent of Manitoba grads are mechanics and repair technicians, our top field; the national average is 17.7 per cent.
Our top college program is some form of business, management and marketing: 28.2 per cent, compared to 27.7 per cent across Canada.
And as for university grads, a whopping 19.3 per cent of Manitobans get a degree in education, well above the national average of 14.3 per cent.
Manitoba Teachers' Society president Paul Olson said Wednesday, "We might be cranking out too many grads," with five public universities having faculties of education, but MTS hasn't analyzed that yet.
"It's probably a whole lot more about how many we keep" working in schools here, how many have retired, and the effects of having lost 700 teaching jobs during the Filmon funding cuts of the 1990s, Olson said.