Skills in Demand in Canada
The pandemic has changed some aspects of Canada’s economy with concomitant impact on labour trends; it has also revealed new gaps in Canada's labour market. A large, systemic shift towards preference for remote work and digitalization has also created many vacancies in Canada. In this article, we will describe the current situation of the Canadian labour market and the key skills that are likely to be in-demand for the near future.
Canada is the world’s second-largest country by land area and has its 9th-largest economy in the world. Canada is known for its stable economy with many developing industries. In 2020, the three dominated industries in Canada were
- Real estate: Canada's real estate industry consists of establishments engaged in the following types of activities: real estate management; selling, renting or buying real estate for others; appraising real estate. About 250,000 people are employed in this field.
- Mining: The industry is dominated by oil and gas extraction. The other types of mining activity include mining coal and a range of metals, including gold, silver, copper, nickel, and more. Stone, sand, gravel, clay, and ceramic mining and quarrying are also part of the industry, as well as mining for potash. This industry employs approximately 190,000 people.
- Manufacturing: Canada has a vibrant manufacturing industry: it manufactures food, chemicals, petroleum, fabricated metal products, machinery, transportation equipment, and other products. This field employs approximately 1.5 million people.
International trade, including both exports and imports, is a large component of Canada's economy, each making up about one-third of GDP. The country's top three trading partners in 2020, by the total volume of the exports and imports of goods and services, were the USA, China, and the United Kingdom.
However, it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other unique and prosperous industries in Canada such as fishing, agriculture, scientific research, and, of course, service. You can find out more about the Canadian economy and its projections for the future in our article.
To operate its vast economy, Canada needs qualified, skilled workers. That is the primary reason for Canada’s open and welcoming immigration system. Not only are there many jobs in Canada, the working conditions are some of the best in the world. Here are some reasons a large number of foreigners aspire to live and work in Canada:
- Vast job opportunities in new sectors: As discussed above, Canada is rapidly advancing in modern technology, making it an ideal place for careers in IT or computer science. There are plenty of job opportunities in high-skilled fields such as aerospace, engineering, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals. Semi-skilled workers are also in demand in Canada.
- High average salaries: Canada has among the highest minimum wages in the world, at CAN $11 to $16 per hour, depending on the province or territory. Currently, Canada is experiencing a shortage of skilled and unskilled workers in various industries and regions and the salaries have become even more competitive.
- Canada’s Social Security System: Unlike most other countries, Canada offers many benefits for temporary foreign workers, such as (a) free healthcare coverage if they meet the eligibility requirements of the province where they work; (b) 14 to 21 days’ mandatory paid vacation per year, plus public holidays; (c) up to 35 weeks of maternity/paternity leave for new parents with 55% of the wages paid by the government (with some restrictions); (d) up to 15 weeks of leave; etc.
- Immigrate with your family: Some Canadian work permits allow the spouse and children of foreign workers to come to Canada as well.
- Canada invests research: Canada has a strong research and development community that attracts some of the world's most promising and accomplished minds. These R&D activities lay the seeds for new business models and new companies.
- Multicultural society: Canada has welcomed immigrants for centuries, thus creating a welcoming environment for many cultures. Many companies and organizations have taken measures to ensure that their company work culture reflects Canada’s diverse population.
- Canadians are happy people: Canada ranked 14th on the World Happiness Report 2021, which ranks 149 countries based on happiness levels.
The labour market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reverberate in Canada’s economy. It drastically altered the list of industries with a shortage of workers in Canada. In 2020, the health care and social assistance sector led in labour demand, accounting for one-fifth of all job postings, while in 2019 the top spot was occupied by the retail trade sector.
In 2021, the situation has changed slightly. Many industries have struggled to return to regular working capacity due to COVID-19, and data shows that the following sectors have the largest number of job vacancies in Canada:
- Health care and social assistance: Vacancies in health care and social assistance have increased by 60% compared to 2019, the largest increase of any sector. Vacancies grew in all subsectors, led by hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities. This sector represented one in seven job vacancies in Canada. It is projected that there will be more than 108,000 unfulfilled job vacancies by the end of 2021.
- Hospitality, accommodation and food service: These sectors were hardest hit by COVID-19 shutdowns, and many of its workers migrated to other jobs. That is why it is predicted that labour shortages facing this industry won't be over any time soon. The number of job vacancies in accommodation and food services increased by 15%. This increase was most prominent in the “food services and drinking establishment” subsector (+21.2%), as restaurants and bars began to come back to operation. These businesses were hardest hit and their worker pool has been particularly affected by the tightening and recent easing of public health restrictions. 89,000 job vacancies are expected as of the end of 2021.
- Construction: The construction industry has reported a record number of job vacancies in 2021, especially in masonry, painting, and electrical work. Vacancies in construction increased by 47% over 2020-2021. Carpenters, construction trade helpers, and labourers also accounted for a large portion of the rise in job vacancies. There are expected to be more than 62,000 job vacancies by the end of 2021.
- Manufacturing: Vacancies in the manufacturing sector increased by 29%. The increase was spread across several subsectors, with the largest gains in food manufacturing and wood product manufacturing. By the end of 2021, there will be more than 65,000 job vacancies in this sector.
- Retail trade: Job vacancies in retail trade increased to more than 84,000 (+31%) in the third quarter of 2021, with the largest gains in food and beverage stores, building material supply dealers, and garden equipment shops.
- Technology: IT continued to be a hot sector in Canada last year as companies adapted their ecommerce and digital strategies. During the COVID pandemic, the number of vacancies in this sector has remained quite high.
In general, the increase in job vacancies has been secular i.e. it is observed in all Canadian provinces and territories. The largest increases are in Quebec (+38%) and Ontario (+24%) compared to the number of available vacancies by the end of 2019. Canada needs newcomers to help fill these labour market gaps and sustain its economy, especially during the time of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s government recognizes this need and is implementing creative policies in response.
Technological progress, new business models, climate changes, and the pandemic are changing life in Canada, including the nature of work and expectations at work. These changes impact the skills Canada needs and the way it acquires or develops these skills.
While researching this topic, you may find two completely different lists of in-demand skills in Canada:
- The list published by the Canadian government: In this list, you will find jobs that mostly require semi-skilled experience, such as drivers, cooks, salespersons, etc., or skills that are in-demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as nursing, cleaning and sanitizing, or medical laboratory skills.
- The list published by private companies: This list describes skills that are in general demand in Canada, such as scheduling, customer service, ecommerce sales, budgeting, or administrative support. There was a demand for these skills before the pandemic, and they remain in demand, but the number of vacancies in these fields is lower than those in the fields in the government list.
We will briefly describe skills described in both lists.
Currently, the most in-demand skill in Canada is nursing. Nurses provide nursing care to patients and may deliver health education programs as well as consultative services. They may be employed in many settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, clinics, and private homes.
Specifically, there is a shortage of registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, and licensed practical nurses.
Medical laboratory skills
There was a shortage of lab techs even before the COVID-19 pandemic, due to a high number of retirees in this sector and a low number of new graduates available to take their place. The pandemic has made the supply of these workers even more scarce and the demand more acute. Medical laboratory technologists conduct medical laboratory tests, experiments, and analyses to assist in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. They are employed in medical laboratories in hospitals, blood banks, community and private clinics, research facilities and post-secondary educational institutions.
Cleaning and sanitizing
The COVID-19 pandemic boosted strict cleaning and sanitizing requirements in offices, warehouses, public places such as cafes and restaurants, libraries and schools, hotels and theatres. Thus, experienced workers in the sanitization, cleaning, and janitorial sectors are in high demand and will continue to be so for years to come.
Cleaning workers may be employed by office and apartment building management companies, condominium corporations, educational institutions, health care facilities, recreational and shopping facilities, religious, industrial, and other establishments.
Repair is classified as an essential service in Canada by the government. There are many vacancies for workers of different occupations related to repair. You can work as a skilled plumber, automobile technician, electrician, exterminator, escalator and elevator mechanic, construction or restoration expert, home appliance service provider, and many other occupations. Typically, you may be employed in maintenance departments of factories, plants, and similar establishments, or may be self-employed.
Accounting is a skill that is anticipated to be in demand for years to come. In times of financial inconsistency, accountants are particularly sought-after. Accountants plan, organize and administer accounting systems for individuals and establishments. Accounting skills are also necessary to address staffing structures or negotiate with suppliers. They may be employed by private sector accounting and auditing firms as well as or public sector ones, or may be self-employed.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the manufacturing industry is facing big challenges. During the pandemic, the production of essential goods has boomed while the durable goods industry is struggling. Thus, there is a shift in this industry from general skills towards more specialized ones such as those involving welding equipment, blueprint reading, engineering drawings, or good manufacturing practice (GMP).
Employers are experiencing almost universal skill shortages across most skilled-trade disciplines. That is reflected in the high number of skilled-trades jobs that are in demand. Top in-demand jobs in this field are welder, millwright, assembler, machine operator, electro-mechanic, and heavy-duty mechanic.
Many companies ramped up their ecommerce and delivery options in response to provincial COVID-19 lockdowns. Thus, many logistics companies have grown quickly in Canada. As a result of the massive shift to ecommerce and the high demand for essential goods, logistics workers are in more demand than ever before, specifically in the areas of contactless delivery, online order fulfillment, supply chain maintenance and improvement, warehouse assembly and merchandising. The most in-demand jobs are for truck drivers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, pickers, and forklift drivers.
Ecommerce is replacing many traditional sectors; people now buy food, clothes, enjoy government services, etc through their browser. But, of course, customers still need answers about refunds for disrupted purchases, or services that they can access, in addition to questions about repayment plans or payment deferrals. As a result, the demand for customer service specialists has significantly increased. Customer service vacancies are available across Canada in various sectors, including telecoms, healthcare, insurance, finance, tourism, and hospitality.
According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2021, e-commerce sales more than doubled compared to 2020, with an almost 111% increase; shoppers who seldom had the habit of shopping online before COVID-19 have now discovered the efficiency and time-saving advantage of online shopping. As this sector is booming, there are many vacancies available in Canada. The most in-demand skills include pulling and analyzing sales data, curating personalized content and sales models, social media integration, and integrating multi-channel and omnichannel retail touchpoints.
Due in part to COVID-19, technology has been integrated into every aspect of our lives. The IT sector is booming, and technology-based companies want to attract smart and creative persons who will undergird their growth. Thus Canadian IT companies offer high-paying jobs and possibilities for personal growth in a highly competitive and innovative society.
The most in-demand tech skills in Canada involve:
The most in-demand jobs are for software engineers, IT project managers, database analysts, quality assurance analysts, security analysts and architects, and IT business analysts.
If you qualify for any of the above jobs and are a foreigner who is curious about moving to Canada, you should know that you are allowed to work in Canada only if you have a valid Temporary Work Permit or Permanent Resident status.
Temporary Work Permit
There are two main programs for persons who want to perform temporary work in Canada:
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP): developed for persons who will work in Canada only for a specific employer;
- The International Mobility Program (IMP): for persons who want to have the freedom to work for any employer in Canada.
There are also many immigration-specific programs for some categories of workers who want to settle in Canada. However, please note that in almost 75% of the cases you need to have secured a job in Canada before you can apply for any type of Work Permit.
There are three main pathways for skilled and semi-skilled workers who want to obtain permanent residence in Canada:
- For persons with skilled and semi-skilled work experience who want to settle in Canada within six months – the Express Entry immigration programs.
- For persons who want to settle and work in a particular Canadian province or territory, except for Quebec – the Provincial Nominee Program.
- For persons who want to settle and work in Quebec – the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.
If you consider moving to Canada, contact us, and our team of professionals will help you navigate in the process of immigrating to Canada. We will review your background and provide you with a realistic assessment of your chances of success. If you decide to pursue one or more immigration programs, we can manage your application and all related tasks.
If you are unsure about your likelihood of success, contact us for a free evaluation. If you still have any other questions that are not addressed in this article, please contact us and we will be happy to help.