Canada’s tech labour shortage will not be solved by the arrival of thousands more software engineers and designers than Canada jobs for them over the next nine years, predicts the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS).
In May, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) changed Canada’s Express Entry system to allow it to target 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture starting this summer – including software engineers and designers – and so 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.
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“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.”
The paucity of people to fill software engineer and designer positions is so great in Canada that the COPS website is forecasting the current labour shortage for these tech workers will last until at least 2031.
“Over the period 2022 – 2031, the number of job openings arising from expansion demand and replacement demand for software engineers and designers are expected to total 44,300, while the number of job seekers arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility is expected to total 48,800,” notes COPS.
That 4,500 surplus of new job seekers for this occupation over the coming nine years is not considered to be statistically significant enough to end the current labour shortage.
Strong Demand For Software Engineers And Designers Forecast Through To 2031
“As such, the labour shortage conditions seen in recent years will not clear and are expected to persist over the projection period,” notes the COPS website.
Driving that demand for software engineers and designers in the coming years is the need for businesses and governments to upgrade their information and communications technology systems to remain competitive.
“Cloud-based platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and open-source software continue to gain in popularity, while 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,” notes COPS.
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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.
“In addition, new technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing and Blockchain will continue to emerge, thereby supporting the demand for workers in this occupation.
“The stronger penetration of newer technologies in the telecommunications, information and culture services industry such as virtual and augmented reality will also provide job opportunities for software engineers and designers.”
In late September, there were 1,357 job postings for software engineers on the Indeed.ca job-hunting website.
The federal government’s job-hunting and career-planning website, Job Bank, ranked the job prospects of software engineers and designers as very good, its highest ranking, in Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Alberta over the coming three years and as good in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
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In Canada, the median hourly wage for software engineers and designers, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 21231, is $49.38 but that varies from a low of $29.54 right up to $72.12, reveals Job Bank.
Based on a standard, 37.5-hour work week, that means these workers could expect to earn a top median annual income of $140,634.
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.
Occupation-Targeted Draws Started For Express Entry Programs This Summer
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.
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