September 2007

Studying Canada's Engineering and Technology Labour Market

by Marie Lemay, P. Eng.
CEO, Engineers Canada 

Marie Lemay, P. Eng. 

Engineers Canada and its constituent members are hard at work implementing the recommendations stemming from our From Consideration to Integration project. Put into action in 2005, the recommendations are helping to facilitate the timely licensure and employment of international engineering graduates without compromising public safety or lowering professional standards. 

One of the first recommendations identified within this project was to conduct a labour market study to provide a better understanding of the current and future employment picture within Canada's engineering and technology sectors. Accurate labour market information does not currently exist in these fields, making it difficult for potential immigrants, students, graduates and workers to make informed decisions concerning their careers. 

Employers are also experiencing challenges in human resources and skills planning due to inaccurate labour market information. Canada is facing an expanding gap between the skills possessed by engineers coming into the workforce and the skills required by employers. Employers often tell me that the supply of engineers in their regions is limited or that they have difficulty filling certain engineering positions. On the other side, I still hear that in the Greater Toronto Area some engineers cannot find employment. 

With the financial support of Human Resources and Social Development Canada, and in conjunction with the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists, the Engineering and Technology Labour Market Study has been developed and initiated to respond to these concerns. Labour market information related to licensed/certified and unlicensed/uncertified engineers, technologists and technicians is being collected and analyzed to: 

  • Better understand the changing work and skill sets required by the profession; 
  • Depict a detailed picture of the nature of labour supply and demand; 
  • Identify labour force and skills implications from various economic realities; and 
  • Improve the integration of international engineering graduates. 

Data collected will be categorized by discipline, experience level, industry, and economic region. This will help in validating and understanding any skills gaps that may be present and in providing the level of detail required to assist accurate human resources and skills planning in all regions. Both government and industry consistently express a need for engineers, and the study will provide our profession with the facts concerning what types of engineers are needed and where. It will also develop a diversity study, an analysis of attitudes and policies towards licensure, certification, continuing competence and work task boundaries, and an analysis of the globalization of the profession. 

Ultimately, the study will deliver a better understanding of our profession's current and future employment picture. It will inform the future strategic direction, policy recommendations and potential activities of Engineers Canada and its constituent members, while supplying the evidence necessary to motivate businesses, academics, governments and communities to be more responsive to the labour market and skills development needs of the engineering, technician and technologist workforce. 

The study will also provide an understanding of the extent to which the engineering profession and its education process must respond to various new realities, especially changing competency requirements. While the labour market study will not allow us to predict the future, it will better inform schools, students and graduates as to the future outlook for engineering supply and demand. 

Looking forward, our goal is for the study to allow for the development of a labour market information-forecasting tool that will provide current, accurate and regionally relevant information to help students choose their engineering discipline and graduates to know where they are needed the most. 

The first survey of the Engineering and Technology Labour Market Study, for engineering and technology employers, is now underway, and a second survey for employees is under development. Results for these two components of the study are expected before the end of this year, and the study's final report is expected before the end of 2008. 

For more information about the labour market study, or if you are interested in participating in the surveys, please contact Engineers Canada's Manager of Research, Samantha Colasante at samantha.colasante@engineerscanada.ca

More information, including links to the surveys, can also be found at the Engineering and Technology Labour Market Study website, accessible through www.engineerscanada.ca 

Canada is a vast country with numerous regional differences and our profession is comprised of many disciplines. Labour market issues are complex, requiring solutions that are implemented over the long-term. The Engineering and Technology Labour Market Study provides us with an opportunity for better accuracy in labour force planning. I believe that this will further assist our profession in serving the needs of the Canadian public.

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