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Demand for computer engineers – even after excluding software engineers and designers – is projected to explode during the coming nine years and provide opportunities for qualified foreign nationals to gain their permanent residence here through occupation-targeted Express Entry system draws.
“Computer systems design will continue to outperform most industries in terms of production and employment growth as demand is expected to be supported by rapid technological changes,” notes the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS).
“The industry will continue to be driven by the need for businesses and governments to continually upgrade their information and communications technology systems in order to keep up with the most recent technologies and remain competitive.”
The government’s website to project out the future demand for workers based on their occupations notes that cloud-based platforms, the Internet of Things, big data and open-source software continue to gain in popularity.
The implementation of 5G networks and further developments in advanced manufacturing, autonomous transport, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, language processing and biometric security represent a multitude of growth opportunities for the sector.
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“Consumers and businesses own multiple electronic devices and are increasingly asking for compatibility, transferability, and access to their content from any of those devices,” notes the COPS website.
“In addition to this, continued innovation in the telecommunications, information, and culture services industry such as virtual and augmented reality will provide job opportunities for computer engineers.”
By 2031, COPS is projecting there will have been 12,400 new jobs created in Canada for computer engineers and that, coupled with the existing shortage of these workers, will leave employers still scrambling to fill those jobs despite there being 13,900 new workers looking to fill such jobs during that time.
“The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years will not clear and are expected to persist over the projection period,” notes the COPS website.
With Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) changing Canada’s Express Entry system to allow it to target 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture this summer – including computer engineers – it opened the door to a new pathway to immigration for them.
The flagship Express Entry selection system had previously only conducted draws based on immigration programs, not by targeting specific occupations.
Ottawa made the changes to help resolve serious labour shortages in Canada.
Occupation-Targeted Draws Introduced To Resolve Labour Shortages
“Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labour shortages,” said then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
“These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed. We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labour shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities.”
Job Bank pegs the median hourly wage for computer engineers in Canada, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 21311, at $46.43 but that varies from a low of $25.96 right up to $65.13.
Based on a standard, 37.5-hour work week, that means these workers can expect to earn up to $127,003 per year in Canada.
In early October, the Job Bank job-hunting and career-planning website listed 69 jobs for computer engineers across Canada and ranked their job prospects over the next three years as good in Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Ontario and as very good, its highest rating, in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec.
Candidates hoping to immigrate through Express Entry occupation-targeted draws need at least six months of continuous work experience in Canada or abroad within the past three years in one of these occupations to be eligible, experience that can have been gained while working in Canada as temporary foreign workers with a work permits or as an international student with a student visa.
Provinces Have Been Holding Occupation-Specific Draws For Years
Under the changes announced at the end of May, the Express Entry streams, including the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as parts of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are now more responsive to labour market needs.
Canada first signalled its intention to start occupation-specific draws through Express Entry in June last year, when changes were made to the Immigration, Refugee and Protection Act to allow invitations based on occupations and other attributes, such as language ability.
The majority of Canada’s provinces have been issuing occupation-specific invitations for several years.
Under the changes to the act, the immigration minister is required to consult provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners, before announcing new categories.
IRCC must also report to parliament each year on the categories that were chosen and the reason for the choices.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) says the number of occupations facing shortages doubled between 2019 and 2021. From 2018 to 2022, federal high skilled admissions accounted for between 34 and 40 per cent of overall French-speaking admissions outside Quebec, which manages its own immigration intake.