The Research Initiative on Education + Skills (RIES) accesses, analyzes and mobilizes data relating to the education, skills and labour market outcomes of Canadians to inform policy development. RIES is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). The initiative is led by FutureSkills, the Centre for Industrial Relations & Human Resources at U of T (CIRHR), and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO).

The RIES is a collaborative initiative that draws on the expertise of several partners. Under the RIES, researchers work with a team of technical analysts to answer a variety of research questions related to education and skills. Specially trained to work with the data sets listed below, the RIES technical analysts complete the data analysis researchers require to answer their research questions, and researchers prepare policy-relevant research incorporating these findings. Together, the RIES team is creating an accessible, impactful program of research to inform policy development


Published Reports


Combining School & Work

An update on postsecondary student employment in Canada Postsecondary students have been increasingly combining education and employment as a way of enhancing skills and not only as a way of managing costs. This Mowat note summarizes what descriptive statistics from Statistics Canada’s most recent Longitudinal and International Survey of Adults (LISA) data tell us about students’ work experiences while in postsecondary education

Untapped Rule or Leaky Pipeline?

Female Involvement in the ICT Sector There are fewer women than men in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professions in Canada. What drives this trend? Why is this a policy problem, and what can be done to address it? This report, the first from the Research Initiative on Education and Skills (RIES), tackles these topics.

Parental Education and Postsecondary Attainment

A sizeable gap exists between the PSE completion rate of first-generation students and those whose parents attained a postsecondary credential, despite years of government policies meant to improve access for these and other underrepresented students, finds a new report by HEQCO. Using newly available data, this study finds that policies in Ontario have resulted in overall enrolment growth but have done little to close the postsecondary attainment gap of more than 20 percentage points between first-generation students and their counterparts. However, those who do make it to postsecondary are more likely to complete a program. And once in the labour market, they earn similar incomes and are just as likely to have jobs with pensions, bonuses, managerial status and job permanence. This signals that government resources aimed at supporting first-generation and other underrepresented students would be better spent in the K-12 sector.


Ongoing Projects


Gendered Returns to Skill in Canada: A Quantile Regression Approach

Differences in income between women and men in Canada have been well-profiled. This study contributes to what is known about the relationship between skills and labour market returns by examining how earnings differ among Canadian women and men at different numeracy, literacy and problem-solving skill levels.

In collaboration with:

  • Ashley Pullman
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Education Policy Research Initiative

  • Ross Finnie
    Professor & Director, the Education Policy Research Initiative, University of Ottawa

  • Arthur Sweetman
    Professor & Ontario Research Chair, Health and Human Resources, McMaster University


Why Education Matters: An Analysis of Economic Returns to Skills and “Sheepskin” Effects

There is an ongoing debate about whether skills, or education credentials on their own, matter more for successful entry into Canada’s labour market. This study seeks to better understand the extent to which skills vs. credentials explain differences in earnings and employment.

In collaboration with:

  • Roger Pizarro Milian
    Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, University of Toronto

  • David Zarifa
    Professor & Canada Research Chair (Tier II), Nipissing University

  • Scott Davies
    Professor & Canada Research Chair (Tier I), University of Toronto


Skills, Non-standard Work and Youth Employment Trajectories in Canada

Most Canadians are employed in standard full-time, permanent roles. However, a growing number hold non-standard positions that can include contract, casual, and/or part-time work. This study examines the relationship between skills and different employment and wage trajectories, quantifying the labour market returns for workers with different skill sets.

In collaboration with:

  • Danielle Lamb
    Assistant Professor, Ryerson University


Immigrant Labour Market Outcomes and Skills Differences in Canada

Building on previous research on immigrants, this study examines the effect of immigration status on employment arrangement (unemployed/ full-time/ part-time), while also considering other factors known to impact labour market outcomes including numeracy and literacy skills, educational attainment level, and demographic factors.

In collaboration with:

  • Wendy Cukier
    Professor & Director, Diversity Institute, Ryerson University





Survey Documentation


Longitudinal and International Study of Adults 2012

Data dictionary,
Without frequency counts

Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2012

Study Documentation

Longitudinal and International Study of Adults 2012

Questionnaire with the question flow

International Study of Adults (ISA) – 2012

Questionnaire: International Survey of Adults / Component: Main BQR

Longitudinal and International Study of Adults 2014

Data dictionary,
Without frequency counts


Research References


Adult Skills in Focus Series

Adult Skills in Focus is a series of policy-oriented notes designed to describe the results from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills in a concise, user-friendly way.

OECD Skills Outlook 2013

First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills

Skills Matter

Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills

Canada PIAAC reports

Reports of PIAAC are available here from the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.

OECD Skills Outlook 2015

Youth, Skills and Employability