Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Job growth for engineers strongest in Western Canada

March 11, 2013
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

The job market for engineers is strongest in western Canada according to data in the recently released report, Engineering Labour Market in Canada: Projections to 2020.

Sponsored by Randstad Engineering in conjunction with Engineers Canada, the report shows that there is job growth in that sector in British Columbia, Alberta, and the prairie provinces.

Here are some highlights:

Saskatechewan – Engineering markets in Saskatchewan are more cyclical and more varied, but supply constraints are an issue. Resource projects are absorbing all available engineers – especially mining engineers. Saskatchewan is a small market with big project demands that come and go. Local post-secondary programs are not able to keep pace. Engineering immigration has been limited and strong current demand is reflected as Canadians from other provinces seek jobs and licensure in the province;


Alberta – Along with B.C., Alberta is the strongest engineering market in Canada. There was strong engineering job growth in the past year, however there are ongoing shortages and recruiting challenges for engineers with five to 10 years of experience or specialized skills. Growth in enrolments in post secondary programs for engineers has lagged behind national trends and may contribute to a tight labour market;

British Columbia – One of the two strongest engineering markets in Canada, B.C. faces skills shortages and volatile markets in resource related occupations like mining, metallurgical, and petroleum engineers. However conditions are more balanced for computer and industrial engineers. B.C employers will need to source engineers from other markets, however it is hard to attract them from other western provinces due to competitive compensation levels;

Manitoba – Expansion demands are concentrated in resource and utility projects. Construction, particularly in electrical generation and transmission, is a big driver. Labour markets are divided with ongoing shortages and recruiting challenges for engineers with five to 10 years of experience or specialized skills.

On a national basis, expansion demand is expected to create an additional 16,000 jobs for engineers by 2020. Virtually all of these jobs will be west of Quebec, with the bulk of them in Alberta and British Columbia. Alberta specifically has lagged behind national trends in enrolments in engineering programs and an additional 900 engineers are needed annually to balance market demand. In Manitoba, increased construction activity, in particular in electricity generation and transmission, is leading to increased need for qualified engineers.
“Employers in British Columbia will need to source engineers from other markets for much of the coming decade,” said Stephen McCrum, vice president, Western Canada, Randstad Engineering. “The focus will be on specialized and experienced engineers to replace retiring workers.” The average age of employers in British Columbia is higher than in other provinces, raising replacement demand.

“In Saskatchewan specifically, engineering markets are in a state of flux,” McCrum said. “It is a small market, with big project demands that come and go. Local engineering programs are not meeting the cyclical demands of the market as Canadians from other provinces seek engineering jobs in Saskatchewan.”

The report suggests that markets will function better if human resources planning for engineers includes:

• Retaining older engineers in the workforce longer and adding to programs to accelerate on-the-job training of new graduates,
• Adapting post-secondary programs to meet the specialized needs of employers,
• Increasing the supply of engineers in western Canada, through post-secondary programs and immigration.

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