Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Imbalances Between Labour Demand and Supply (2019-2028)

NOTE: The current COPS projections were completed in 2019, well before the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in exceptional and abrupt economic and labour market disruptions in Canada as well as abroad. However, the focus of the COPS projections is on long-term trends in industrial and occupational labour markets, not on short-term developments. At the moment, these long-term trends are not expected to be affected markedly by the COVID-19 outbreak as its impacts are generally foreseen to be temporary.

The current exercise uses the 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC), which is the most up-to-date version of the classification, and covers the period 2019-2028. The 2016 NOC has 500 occupations. However, many of these occupations are small in terms of employment (less than 10,000 workers). To overcome this problem, small occupations were combined into broader groupings according to the specific tasks of each occupation. By grouping small occupations with similar tasks together, 293 occupational groupings of sufficient size in terms of employment were obtained. Occupations that were grouped are marked with an asterisk (*).

For more information on the 293 occupational grouping used in COPS, please visit the COPS Occupational Groupings' Definition.

The methodology used for assessing recent occupational labour market conditions relies on the analysis of primary labour market indicators such as the unemployment rate, employment, job vacancies, overtime and EI claims. If the indicators in a particular occupation behave similarly to all occupations and to their own historical trend, no signs of broad imbalances are said to be found. However, if the indicators are significantly different than the average for all occupations and/or their own historical trend, it would suggest the presence of imbalances (shortage or surplus) in occupational labour markets.

Once the analysis of the recent occupational labour market conditions is completed, COPS estimates the projected number of job openings and job seekers over the period 2019-2028. Job openings can result from employment growth (or expansion demand) and from the need to replace workers (retirements, deaths and emigration). On the other hand, the sources of new job seekers include full-time students leaving the school system as graduates or drop-outs to join the labour market (school leavers), new immigrants and re-entrants in the labour market (net of those leaving the labour market – with the exception of retirements). In addition to the movements of new job seekers and new job openings, COPS takes into account changes in the composition of occupational labour markets through occupational mobility.

Finally, the assessment of recent labour market conditions, as well as the projections of job openings and job seekers, are combined together to produce the final assessment of future labour market conditions or occupational outlooks. By looking at prospective changes in both the demand and supply sides of the labour market, COPS allows identifying occupations where potential labour market imbalances are expected to persist or develop.

Table 1: Occupations showing signs of labour shortage or labour surplus in recent years (2016 to 2018)
Occupations showing signs of: Number of Occupations Share of occupations Employment (2018) Share of total Employment (2018)
Shortage 25 9% 2,029,200 11%
Balance 260 89% 16,456,900 88%
Surplus 8 3% 171,400 1%
Total 293 100% 18,567,500 100%
Occupations showing signs of labour shortage Occupations showing signs of labour surplus
  • 11 health-related occupations
  • 8 occupational groupings related to applied sciences
  • 3 trades
  • 3 manufacturing occupation
  • 1 trade
  • 2 occupations related to fishing
  • 1 manufacturing-related occupation
  • 3 clerical and office occupations

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Table 1 summarizes the results of the assessment of occupational labour market conditions over the period 2016-2018.

The assessment of recent labour market conditions found 25 occupations showing signs of tightening on the labour market (shortage) in the recent years. They represented about 9% of all occupations and accounted for 11% of total Canadian employment in 2018. Most of them typically require at least some form of post-secondary education or apprenticeship training and are predominantly in health and occupational groupings related to natural and applied sciences.

On the other hand, 8 occupations were found to show signs of recent loosening on the labour market (surplus). They represented about 3% of the occupations analyzed, and only 1% of the 2018 employment. They are spread across multiple job types, such as fishing or clerical and office occupations.

A Review of Job Openings and Job Seekers by Skill Level

Once the analysis of the recent occupational labour market conditions is done, COPS estimates the projected number of job openings and job seekers over the period 2019-2028. This is done in order to identify if recent labour market imbalances are expected to persist or if new imbalances are expected to develop over the projection period. Projections of job openings and job seekers are conducted at the occupational level, but results are also aggregated by skill level.

The NOC defines skill levels based on the amount and type of education and training required to enter and perform the duties of an occupation. There are five broad skill level categories: 1) management occupations; 2) skill level A which includes occupations usually requiring university education; 3) skill level B which includes occupations usually requiring college education or apprenticeship training; 4) skill level C which includes occupations usually requiring secondary school and/or occupation-specific training; and 5) skill level D which includes occupations for which on-the-job training is usually provided. For more information on the occupational analysis, please see the documents titledJob Openings and Job Seekers.

Figure 1: Job Openings from Expansion and Replacement Demand by Skill Level, Projection 2019-2028

Bar figure showing the cumulative job openings from expansion and replacement demand by skill level over the projection period 2019-2028. The data is shown on the link following this figure

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Figure 1: Job Openings from Expansion and Replacement Demand by Skill Level, Projection 2019-2028

Figure 1 shows that COPS projects a total of 6.6 million job openings over the period 2019-2028, arising from employment growth (expansion demand), retirements, and other sources.

At the broad skill level, more than two-thirds (or about 4.4 million) of the job openings are expected to be in occupations that usually require postsecondary education (university, college or vocational) or in management occupations. In fact, 75% of new jobs created by economic expansion are projected to be in occupations generally requiring postsecondary education or in management occupations, whereas 65.4% of job openings due to replacement will be in these occupational groups, for a combined average of 67.8% (around 4.4 million).

Given that 75% of all new jobs are expected to be in high-skill occupations over the period 2019-2028, the proportion of high-skill jobs in total employment will continue to rise in the coming decade. Indeed, the share of high-skill occupations out of total employment has grown from 60.2% in 2008 to 63.3% in 2018, and it is expected to reach 64.3% in 2028.

Over the next ten years, less than one-third of job openings (around 2.1 million) are expected to be in occupations usually requiring high school education or on-the-job training.

For a more detailed analysis, please see the document titled Job Openings.

Figure 2: Job Seekers by Skill Level, Projection 2019-2028

Bar figure showing the cumulative job seekers from school leavers, immigrants, mobility and others, by skill level over the projection period 2019-2028. The data is shown on the link following this figure

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Text version of Figure 2: Job Seekers by Skill Level, Projection 2019-2028

Figure 2 shows that a total of 6.7 million job seekers (from the school system, immigration and other sources) are projected to enter the labour market over the projection period.

About two-thirds (67.2% - around 4.5 million individuals) of these entrants are anticipated to be in occupations that usually require postsecondary education (college, university or vocational) or in management occupations. At a more detailed level:

About one-third of job seekers (around 2.2 million) are expected to look for work in occupations requiring only high school education or on-the-job training.

For a more detailed analysis, please see the document titled Job Seekers.

At the skill level, COPS projects relative similar numbers of job openings and job seekers by skill level, suggesting no major imbalances by broad skill level over the period 2019-2028.

Figure 3 shows, for each skill level, the projected annual average number of job openings (vertical axis) and job seekers (horizontal axis) as a percentage of their respective employment level in 2018. For example, a job openings rate of 4% indicates that the projected annual average number of job openings (from expansion and replacement demand) in a given skill level over the projection period represents 4% of its employment level in 2018.

Figure 3: Projected Ratios of Job Openings and Job Seekers by Skill Level over the Period 2019-2028 as Annual Average Percentage of 2018 Employment

Scatter figure showing the projected job openings (vertical axis) and job seekers (horizontal axis) by skill level over the period 2019-2028 as annual average percentage of 2018 Employment. The data is shown on the link following this figure

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Text version ofFigure 3: Projected Ratios of Job Openings and Job Seekers by Skill Level over the Period 2019-2028 as Annual Average Percentage of 2018 Employment

For points close to the 45° line, the expected rates of job openings and job seekers are relatively similar. That is, no major imbalances between the number of job openings and job seekers are expected. On the other hand, any point markedly away from the 45° line would signal potential labour market imbalances. A point in the upper left (red) corner would be a signal of excess demand. A point in the lower right (green) corner would be a signal of excess supply conditions.

Overall, all skill levels are relatively close to the 45° line, which means that job openings (demand) and job seekers (supply) by skill level are projected to be broadly in balance over the period 2019-2028.

With limited or no evidence of imbalances between labour demand and supply in recent years, and with the projections showing a similar number of job openings and job seekers for each broad skill level over the period 2019-2028, no major labour market pressures by skill level are expected over the projection period.

Projected Labour Market Conditions by Occupation

Even when labour market conditions are broadly in balance for an aggregate skill level, imbalances (excess demand or supply) can exist in many occupations within that skill level. This chart shows, for each of the 293 occupations analyzed, the projected annual average number of job openings (vertical axis) and job seekers (horizontal axis) as a percentage share of their respective employment level in 2018. Occupations are colour-coded according to their NOC skill level.

Figure 4: Projected Ratios of Job Openings and Job Seekers by Occupation over the Period 2019-2028 as Annual Average Percentage of 2018 Employment

Scatter figure showing the projected job openings (vertical axis) and job seekers (horizontal axis) by occupation over the period 2019-2028 as annual average percentage of 2018 Employment. The data is shown on the link following this figure

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Text version of Figure 4: Projected Ratios of Job Openings and Job Seekers by Occupation over the Period 2019-2028 as Annual Average Percentage of 2018 Employment

For points close to the 45° line, the expected rates of job openings and job seekers are relatively similar. That is, no major imbalance between new job openings and job seekers are expected. On the other hand, any point substantially further from the boundary lines (dotted lines) would signal potential imbalances between the number of job openings and the number of job seekers. A point in the lower right corner signals that the occupation has a higher rate of job seekers than of job openings (excess supply). Inversely, a point in the upper left corner signals that the occupation has a higher rate of job openings than of job seekers (excess demand). The overall distribution of the rates of job seekers and job openings determines the position of the boundaries.

The majority of the 293 occupations are in proximity of the 45° line, suggesting balanced situations over the period 2019-2028 in most occupations. However, some occupations, mainly in the health as well as natural and applied sciences fields, are expected to have rates of job openings that exceed significantly their rates of job seekers (excess demand). On the other hand, some other occupations (spread across multiple fields) are projected to have rates of job seekers that substantially exceed their rates of job openings (excess supply).

However, the projected labour market conditions are determined by combining the assessment of conditions in recent years with projected trends in job seekers and job openings.

Table 2 presents a summary of the projected labour market conditions at the occupational level. The rows present the occupational split between occupations showing signs of shortage, surplus or balanced conditions in recent years (2016-2018). The columns show the distribution of occupations with projected gaps between the numbers of job openings and job seekers over the period 2019-2028. The intersection of rows and columns shows the final projected labour market conditions. For example, occupations that were found to show signs of shortages in recent years (first row) and whose projected job openings are substantially higher than job seekers (first column) are expected to face shortage conditions over the projection period.

Table 2: Projected Labour Market Conditions over the Period 2019-2028
    Projected Gap between Job Openings and Job Seekers over 2019-2028
    Openings significantly higher than Seekers Openings similar to Seekers Openings significantly lower than Seekers
Recent Labour Market Conditions Recently in shortage
Recent shortages amplify
8 Occupations
6 health-related occupations;
2 in natural & applied sciences
Recent shortages persist
17 Occupations
6 in natural & applied sciences;
5 health-related occupations;
3 trades
 
Recently in balance
New shortages emerge
11 Occupations
7 high-skill health or science-related occupations
Remain in balance
235 Occupations
Widespread across all sectors
New surpluses emerge
14 Occupations
Contains 10 high-skill occupations
Recently in surplus  
Recent surpluses persist
5 Occupations
2 high-skill occupations
3 low-skill occupations
Recent surpluses amplify
3 Occupations
1 high-skill occupation
2 low-skill occupations

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Hence, all occupations in the red cells are expected to face shortage conditions over the projection period. This is because their shortage conditions in recent years are not expected to be eliminated over the projection period, or because those that were found to be in balance in recent years are expected to have a significant shortfall of their projected number of job seekers in comparison to job openings. On the other hand, occupations in the green cells display a certain level of surplus conditions. The occupations in the white cell in the middle of the table are occupations expected to be in balance over the projection period.

Table 3 presents the projected labour market conditions for all 293 occupations (4-digit or occupational groupings).

Table 3: Projected Labour Market Conditions over the Period 2019-2028
    Projected Gap between Job Openings and Job Seekers over 2019-2028
    Openings significantly higher than Seekers Openings similar to Seekers Openings significantly lower than Seekers
Recent Labour Market Conditions Recently in shortage 2171, 2173, 3012, 3111, 3112, 3120*, 3142, 3233 2132, 2147, 2161, 2172, 2174, 2232, 3011, 3211*, 3214*, 3217*, 3413*, 5241, 5242, 7237, 7311, 7312, 9462  
Recently in balance 2146*, 2270*, 3113, 3141, 3143*, 3231, 3232*, 4151, 4154, 7511, 9463 0010*, 0111, 0112, 0113*, 0121, 0122, 0124*, 0130*, 0211*, 0213, 0311, 0410*, 0421, 0422, 0423, 0430*, 0510*, 0601, 0621, 0631, 0632, 0651, 0711, 0712, 0714, 0731, 0811, 0820*, 0910*, 1111, 1112, 1113, 1114, 1121, 1122, 1123, 1211, 1212, 1213*, 1221, 1222, 1223, 1224, 1225, 1227*, 1241, 1242, 1243, 1250*, 1311, 1312*, 1411, 1414, 1415*, 1431, 1432, 1434*, 1511, 1512, 1521, 1522*, 1525*, 2110*, 2120*, 2133, 2141*, 2151, 2152*, 2175, 2210*, 2221, 2222*, 2225, 2231, 2233, 2234, 2241, 2242, 2243*, 2261*, 2264, 2281, 2282*, 3114, 3132, 3220*, 3234, 3411, 4011, 4012, 4021, 4031, 4032, 4033, 4110*, 4152*, 4153, 4156, 4161, 4162*, 4164*, 4166*, 4168*, 4211, 4212, 4214, 4215, 4216*, 4311, 4312*, 4411, 4412, 4413, 4420*, 5110*, 5121*, 5125, 5131*, 5133*, 5221, 5222*, 5230*, 5243*, 5250*, 6211, 6221, 6222, 6231, 6232, 6235, 6311, 6312*, 6321, 6322, 6331, 6332, 6341, 6342*, 6411, 6421, 6511, 6512, 6513, 6521, 6522, 6523*, 6525, 6530*, 6541, 6551, 6552, 6561*, 6562, 6611, 6621, 6622, 6623, 6711, 6720*, 6731, 6732, 6733, 6740*, 7201, 7202, 7203, 7204, 7205, 7231*, 7233*, 7241, 7242*, 7244*, 7246*, 7251, 7252*, 7271, 7282*, 7284, 7294, 7295, 7301*, 7302, 7304*, 7313*, 7314*, 7321, 7322, 7330*, 7360*, 7370*, 7380*, 7441, 7442*, 7450*, 7512, 7513, 7514, 7521, 7522, 7530*, 7610*, 7620*, 8211, 8220*, 8231, 8232, 8241, 8252*, 8420*, 8431, 8611*, 8612, 9211*, 9213, 9214*, 9220*, 9230*, 9240*, 9410*, 9420*, 9431*, 9432*, 9441*, 9446, 9461*, 9470*, 9521*, 9523, 9524*, 9532*, 9611*, 9613*, 9614, 9617* 1226, 2131, 2134, 2143*, 2250*, 3131, 3213, 7272, 7281, 7291, 8410*, 8432, 8614*, 9531*
Recently in surplus  

1450*, 1513, 5210*, 7292*, 9616*

1422*, 8260*, 8440*

Note 1: Occupations with a star are groupings of 4-digit occupations (including 3-digit occupations which are considered as groups of 4-digit occupations).
Note 2: Occupations in bold are those where at least 50% of their workers were women in 2018.
Please visit COPS Occupational Groupings for more information on the 292 occupational groupings.

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Table 3 shows that he large majority of the occupations (235, those in the white cell) are expected to have a balanced outlook. These occupations represented about 83.1% of the employment in 2018. Occupations expected to face shortage conditions (36 occupations, in the red cells) represented about 13.9% of the 2018 employment, while occupations expected to face surplus conditions (22, those in the green cells) represented only 3.0% of the 2018 employment.

Note: In a diversified economy such as Canada’s, with different regions having quite different industrial mixes and demographics, a national-level assessment of pressures in occupational labour markets could easily mask major differences across regions. Some parts of the country may be facing a labour shortfall in an occupation while other regions may have excess supply in that same occupation. Also, it is important to remember that the analysis is based on broad occupational groupings. Therefore, although the projections show balance conditions for all university professors, there might be some particular fields of study facing shortage or surplus conditions. For example, there might be a sufficient number of mathematics professors, but a shortage of engineering professors.

Table 4 shows that a large number of occupations that are expected to face labour shortages (excess labour demand) over the projection period are in health related fields, as well as natural and applied sciences occupations. They are almost all high-skill occupations (occupations usually requiring a college or a university education, or management occupations).

The analysis of recent labour market conditions suggests that all the occupations projected to be in excess demand over the medium term were already in that situation or in balance in recent years. For instance, higher healthcare needs due to population ageing will increase demand for several occupations in the health sector. Over the medium term, additional pressure will come from replacing retiring workers in health occupations. In fact, the number of job openings resulting from retirements will exceed the number of job openings arising from new jobs. Therefore, despite the increase in the supply of new workers, the strong labour demand in health occupations is expected to exceed markedly the expected supply over the projection period.

Table 4: Occupations Projected to be in Shortage Conditions by NOC Skill Type over the Period 2019-2028
Skill Types Occupations in Shortage (with NOC grouping code)
Natural and Applied Sciences and Related Occupations 2132 – Mechanical engineers, 2146* - Aerospace engineers & Other professional engineers, n.e.c., 2147 – Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers), 2161 - Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries, 2171 - Information systems analysts and consultants, 2172 - Database analysts and data administrators, 2173 - Software engineers and designers, 2174 - Computer programmers and interactive media developers, 2232 - Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians, 2270* - Transportation officers and controllers
Health Occupations 3011 – Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors, 3012 - Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, 3111 - Specialist physicians, 3112 - General practitioners and family physicians, 3113 – Dentists, 3120* - Optometrists, chiropractors and other health diagnosing and treating professionals, 3141 - Audiologists and speech-language pathologists, 3142 – Physiotherapists, 3143* - Occupational therapists & Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment, 3211* - Medical laboratory technologists & Medical laboratory technician and pathologists' assistants, 3214* - Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists & Medical radiation technologists & Medical sonographers, 3217* - Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c. & Other medical technologists and technician (except dental health), 3231 – Opticians, 3232* - Practitioners of natural healing, Massage therapists & Other technical occs. in therapy and assessment, 3233 - Licensed practical nurses, 3413* - Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates & Other assisting occupations in support of health services
Occupations in Social Science, Education, Government Service and Religion 4151 - Psychologists, 4154 - Professional occupations in religion
Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport 5241 - Graphic designers and illustrators, 5242 - Interior designers and interior decorators
Trades Transport and Equipment Operators and Related Occupations 7237 - Welders and related machine operators, 7311 - Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics, 7312 - Heavy-duty equipment mechanics, 7511 - Transport truck drivers
Occupations Unique to Processing, Manufacturing and Utilities 9462 - Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers, 9463 - Fish and seafood plant workers

Note 1: Occupations with a star are groupings of 4-digit occupations (including 3-digit occupations which are considered as groups of 4-digit occupations).
Note 2: Occupations in bold are those where at least 50% of their workers were women in 2018.

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Around half of all occupations projected to face shortage conditions are female dominated. Indeed, in 2018, women accounted for more than 50% of total employment in 19 out of the 36 occupations projected to face shortage conditions over the projection period. Most of these occupations are in the health sector. Although the share of women in natural and applied sciences and related occupations has increased over the last two decades, nearly all occupations facing shortage conditions in this sector employed more men than women in 2018.

Figure 5 shows an example of the assessment of an occupation expected to face shortage conditions over the period 2019-2028.

Figure 5: Example of an occupation projected to face shortage conditions: General practitioners and family physicians (NOC 3112)

Recent Labour Market Conditions:
Shortage Conditions

Projected Job Openings and Job Seekers:
Job Openings > Job Seekers
Labour Market Outlook:
Shortage Conditions
Bar figure showing the expected job openings and job seekers by components of the occupation General practitioners and family physicians (NOC 3112), as an example of an occupation projected to face shortage conditions over the projection period. The data is shown on the link following this figure

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Text version of Figure 5: Example of an occupation projected to face shortage conditions: General practitioners and family physicians (NOC 3112)

Over the period 2016-2018, employment growth in this occupational group was significantly above the all-occupations average. The unemployment remained substantially low at 0.9% in 2018, well below the national average of 5.8%. This occupation tends to have a very low number of job vacancies. However, this is typically characteristic of the occupation as a very large proportion of workers are self-employed. In addition, Canada has less doctors per capita than the majority of OECD countries, signalling limits in the timeliness of the healthcare received by the Canadian population. Hence, the analysis of key labour market indicators suggests that the number of job seekers was insufficient to fill the job openings in this occupational group over the past ten years.

Over the period 2019-2028, the number of job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) for General practitioners and family physicians is expected to total 50,900, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration, and inter-occupational mobility) is expected to total 19,400.

The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years are expected to persist into the period 2019-2028, and would even become more acute as the projected number of job openings is expected to be substantially larger than the projected number of job seekers over that period. More than half of job openings will result from expansion demand. Indeed, as the Canadian population ages, the demand for health services is expected to grow. The numbers of complex health conditions as well as of those requiring additional follow-ups are expected to become more important. Consequently, the employment growth rate for general practitioners and family physicians is projected to be the second highest of all the occupational groups. Retirements are expected to account for slightly more than one third of job openings. Although workers in this occupational grouping are generally older than the all-occupations average, they also tend to retire later in their career. Therefore, pressures arising from retirements are projected to be similar to the average. With regard to labour supply, school leavers are projected to be the main source of job seekers. Even though access is difficult for people who obtained their medical degree outside Canada, immigrants completing the examinations of the Medical Council of Canada or Collège des médecins du Québec and getting the proper authorization from the provincial/territorial regulatory body are anticipated to account for over a quarter of all job seekers. Still, there will be an insufficient number of job seekers to overcome the high demand for workers in this occupation over the projection period.

In order to eliminate the labour shortage in this occupational group, a substantial increase in the number of school leavers would be needed. However, this will not be possible in the short term because of the many years of training a potential worker must go through before being able to work as general practitioner and/or family physician.

Table 5 shows that Over the projection period, 22 occupations are expected to face labour surplus conditions. These are projected to be distributed across high-skill occupations (usually requiring post-secondary) and low-skill occupations (usually requiring high school diploma or less).

Table 5: Occupations Projected to be in Surplus Conditions by NOC Skill Type over the Period 2019-2028
Skill Types Occupations in Surplus
Business, Finance and Administration Occupations 1226 - Conference and event planners, 1422* - Data entry clerks & Desktop publishing operators and related occupations, 1450* - Library, correspondence and other clerks, 1513 – Couriers, messengers and door-to-door distributors
Natural and Applied Sciences and Related Occupations 2131 - Civil engineers, 2134 – Chemical engineers, 2143* - Mining engineers; Geological engineers & Petroleum engineers, 2250* – Technical occupations in architecture, drafting, surveying, geomatics
Health Occupations 3131 – Pharmacists, 3213 - Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians
Occupations in Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport 5210* - Technical occupations in libraries, public archives, museums and art galleries
Trades, Transport and Equipment Operators and Related Occ’s. 7272 – Cabinetmakers, 7281 – Bricklayers, 7291 - Roofers and shinglers, 7292* - Glaziers & Insulators
Occupations Unique to Primary Industry 8260* - Fishing vessel masters and fishermen/women, 8410* - Mine service workers and operators in oil and gas drilling, 8432 - Nursery and greenhouse workers, 8440* - Other workers in fishing and trapping and hunting occupations, 8614* - Mine labourers & Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers
Occupations Unique to Manufacturing and Utilities 9531* - Boat assemblers and inspectors; Plastic products assemblers, finishers and inspectors; Industrial painters, coaters and metal finishing process operators & Other products assemblers, finishers and inspectors, 9616/9619* - Labourers in textile processing & Other labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities

Note 1: Occupations with a star are groupings of 4-digit occupations (including 3-digit occupations which are considered as groups of 4-digit occupations).
Note 2: Occupations in bold are those where at least 50% of their workers were women in 2018.

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Some of the occupations facing surplus conditions are related to administrative and clerical work, such as data entry clerks and desktop publishing operators and related occupations; as well as library, correspondence and other clerks. For some time now, several technological developments, such as online banking and financial services, as well as the ongoing decline in the use of paper documents have tempered the demand for these workers. As these trends are expected to continue over the projection period, a surplus of workers is anticipated in these occupations.

Two oil and gas related occupations are also in the list. Following the sharp drop in crude oil prices, substantial declines in production and employment were observed in support activities for oil and gas extraction in 2015-2016. Since then, the recovery in this sector has been modest and the outlook for oil and gas extraction over the projection period remains significantly below the pace of growth recorded over the last decade. As a result, employment growth in these two occupations is expected to remain very weak, leading to surplus conditions over the medium term.

There are also some occupations specific to the primary sector as well as in the processing, manufacturing and utilities sectors that are expected to face an excess supply situation because employment growth (expansion demand) and/or retirements are not projected to be as strong as in the rest of the economy. For instance, a number of occupations in the processing and manufacturing industries are expecting to face limited or negative employment growth due to the intensification of international competition, especially from low-cost countries. At the same time, gains in productivity in those sectors, notably from automation, will limit employment growth over the projection period. Other occupations from these sectors are also facing surplus conditions over the projection period due to low retirement rates given their younger workforce and/or workers that tend to retire at a later age.

Finally, in 2018, women represented more than 50% of employment in only 7 of the 22 occupations expected to face surplus conditions. Among those, animal health technologists and veterinary technicians was the only occupation where the proportion of female workers was substantially higher (at least 80% of workers).

Figure 6 shows an example of the assessment of an occupation expected to face surplus conditions over the period 2019-2028.

Figure 6: Example of an occupation projected to face surplus conditions: Civil engineers (NOC 2131)

Recent Labour Market Conditions:
Balance Conditions

Projected Job Openings and Job Seekers:
Job Seekers > Job Openings
Labour Market Outlook:
Surplus Conditions

Note: Total job openings represent the summation of expansion demand (negative),
retirement, death and emigration, while total job seekers represent the
summation of school leavers, immigration and mobility & others (negative).

Bar figure showing the expected job openings and job seekers by components of the occupation Civil engineers (NOC 2131), as an example of an occupation projected to face ssurplus conditions over the projection period. The data is shown on the link following this figure

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Text version of Figure 6: Example of an occupation projected to face surplus conditions: Civil engineers (NOC 2131)

Over the period 2016-2018, employment in this occupational group increased at a pace similar to the all-occupation average. This was reflected in a small decline of its unemployment rate, remaining well below the national average. Investment in government infrastructure (roads, sewers, water systems, etc.) over the past couple of years led to a significant increase in employment in this occupation. The number of unemployed workers per job vacancy decreased over the period, reflecting both lower unemployment and higher job vacancies. However, this situation was comparable to the labour market tightening seen across the country. In fact, the analysis of key labour market indicators suggests that the number of job seekers was sufficient to fill the job openings in this occupational group over the past ten years.

Over the period 2019-2028, the number of job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) for Civil engineers is expected to total 18,900, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration, and inter-occupational mobility) is expected to total 26,500.

Although this occupational group experienced a balanced market in recent years, the projected number of job seekers is expected to be substantially higher than the projected number of job openings, creating a surplus of workers over the period 2019-2028. Retirements and job growth are expected to contribute to the majority of job openings. The retirement rate will be similar to the all-occupations average as these workers tend to have a similar age structure and retire at a similar age than the average. Retirements are projected to represent about 53% of all openings, a proportion that is below the all-occupations average (about 59% of openings). Additionally, employment growth is also expected to be similar to the average. As a result, job creation is expected to contribute about 33% of total job openings. The need for road networks and public infrastructure is still significant. It is therefore expected that the level of activity in civil engineering will be sustained over the projection period, although at a slower pace than in the past.

With regard to labour supply, the majority of job seekers are expected to come directly from the school system. Given the increased enrolment in post-secondary programs, the number of school leavers is expected to increase in comparison to what was seen over the period 2009-2018. In fact, that volume alone is estimated to be significantly superior to total job openings. Immigrants are also expected to be a major source of labour supply in this occupation. This is largely because foreigners in this occupational group coming from countries with a free trade agreement with Canada might be eligible to work in Canada, simplifying their entry and long stay in the country. A significant number of workers will seek opportunities in other similar professions, such as in related engineering occupations and managers. However, this negative mobility will not be sufficient to offset the large number of school leavers and immigrants.

Although occupational projections cannot be developed by gender, some general messages can be withdrawn from the results. Table 6 presents a high-level comparison of occupations expected to face shortage or surplus conditions, were at least 80% of workers in an occupation were women or men in 2018.

Table 6: Gender highlights, 2019-2028
There were 42 occupations where at least 80% of workers were women in 2018 There were 93 occupations where at least 80% of workers were men in 2018
Employment in these 42 occupations represented about 19.1% of total employment. Employment in these 91 occupations represented about 23.1% of total employment.
8 (19%) of these 42 occupations are expected to face shortage conditions.
  • These occupations represent about 34% of total employment of all occupations projected to be in shortage
  • All 8 are high-skilled occupations, related to the health sector
11 (12%) of these 93 occupations are expected to face shortage conditions.
  • These occupations represent about 36% of total employment of all occupations projected to be in shortage.
  • 5 occupations are high-skilled and related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), while 4 are related to trades, transportation and equipment operators
Only 1 (2%) of these 42 occupations is expected to face surplus conditions
  • This occupation represents about 4% of total employment of all occupations projected to be in surplus.
  • The occupation is “Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians”.
9 (10%) of these 93 occupations are expected to face surplus conditions
  • These occupations represent about 21% of total employment of all occupations projected to be in surplus .
  • 6 are high-skilled, 4 are related to trades, transportation, and equipment operators, and 4 to the primary sector

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Table 6 shows that although occupational projections cannot be developed by gender, some general messages can be withdrawn from the results. For instance:

Annex 1 - Projected Labour Market Conditions by Skill Level

Table 7: Projected Labour Market Conditions for Management Occupations, 4-digit Occupational Groupings, 2019-2028
Management Occupations Shortage Balance Surplus Total
Number of Occupations 0 29 0 29
Employment in Base Year (2018) 0 1,710,000 0 1,710,000
Share of Total Employment in 2018 0% 9.2% 0% 9.2%

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Overall, the management skill level is projected to be in balanced labour market conditions over the period 2019-2028. This skill level, which includes 29 occupations, employed about 1.7 million workers in 2018 (9.2% of total employment). COPS projects similar numbers of job openings (676,900) and job seekers (697,700) in management occupations over the next decade. The main source of job seekers for these occupations is upward mobility (71.4%) as experienced workers from other skill levels seek to fill vacant management positions. All 29 management occupations are expected to experience balanced conditions over the projection period.

Table 8: Projected Labour Market Conditions for Occupations Usually Requiring University Education (Skill Level A), 4-digit Occupational Groupings, 2019-2028
Occupations usually requiring university education (Skill level A) Shortage Balance Surplus Total
Number of Occupations 19 36 4 59
Employment in Base Year (2018) 1,233,700 2,401,600 128,600 3,763,900
Share of Total Employment in 2018 6.6% 12.9% 0.7% 20.2%

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Overall, the skill level A (i.e. occupations usually requiring university education) is projected to be in balanced labour market conditions over the period 2019-2028. This skill level, which includes 59 occupations, employed about 3.8 million workers in 2018 (20.2% of total employment). COPS projects about 1,576,000 job openings and 1,502,300 job seekers in skill level A over the next decade. However, this difference is not large enough to expect labour shortage conditions in the broad grouping of occupations usually requiring university education.

The majority of the occupations (36 out of 59) within this skill level are expected to experience balanced conditions over the projection period. Those occupations employed 2.4 million workers in 2018 (12.9% of total employment).

However, imbalances are projected for several occupations, with 19 occupations expected to face shortage conditions. Employment in those occupations represented about 1.2 million workers in 2018 (6.6% of total employment).

On the other hand, 4 occupations are expected to face surplus conditions. Employment in these occupations represented 128,600 workers in 2018 (0.7% of total employment).

Table 9: Projected Labour Market Conditions for Occupations Usually Requiring College Education or Apprenticeship Training (Skill Level B), 4-digit Occupational Groupings, 2019-2028
Occupations usually requiring college education or apprenticeship training (Skill level B) Shortage Balance Surplus Total
Number of Occupations 13 98 9 120
Employment in Base Year (2018) 696,700 5,430,200 210,400 6,337,200
Share of Total Employment in 2018 3.7% 29.1% 1.1% 34.0%

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Overall, the skill level B (occupations usually requiring college education or apprenticeship training) is projected to be in balanced labour market conditions over the period 2019-2028. This skill level, which includes 120 occupations, employed about 6.3 million workers in 2018 (34.0% of total employment). COPS projects similar numbers of job openings (2,195,200) and job seekers (2,273,600) in skill level B over the next decade.

The majority of the occupations (98 out of 120) within this skill level are expected to experience balanced conditions. Those occupations employed 5.4 million workers in 2018 (29.1% of total employment).

However, imbalances are projected for several occupations, with 13 occupations expected to face shortage conditions. Employment in those occupations represented 696,700 workers in 2018 (3.7% of total employment).

On the other hand, 9 occupations are expected to face surplus conditions. Employment in these occupations represented 210,400 workers in 2018 (1.1% of total employment).

Table 10: Projected Labour Market Conditions for Occupations Usually Requiring High School Education (Skill Level C), 4-digit Occupational Groupings, 2019-2028
Occupations usually requiring high school education (Skill Level C) Shortage Balance Surplus Total
Number of Occupations 4 54 7 65
Employment in Base Year (2018) 665,100 4,019,800 188,100 4,873,100
Share of Total Employment in 2018 3.6% 21.5% 1.0% 26.1%

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Overall, the skill level C (occupations usually requiring secondary school) is projected to be in balanced labour market conditions over the period 2019-2028. This skill level, which includes 65 occupations, employed about 4.9 million workers in 2018 (26.1% of total employment). COPS projects similar numbers of job openings (1,510,600) and job seekers (1,538,700) in skill level C over the next decade.

The majority of the occupations (54 out of 65) within this skill level are expected to experience balanced conditions. Those occupations employed about 4.0 million workers in 2018 (21.5% of total employment).

However, imbalances are projected for several occupations, with 4 occupations expected to face shortage conditions. Employment in these occupations represented 665,100 workers in 2018 (3.6% of total employment).

On the other hand, 7 occupations are expected to face surplus conditions. Employment in these occupations represented 188,100 workers in 2018 (1.0% of total employment ).

Table 11: Projected Labour Market Conditions for Occupations Usually Requiring On-the-Job Training (Skill Level D), 4-digit Occupational Groupings, 2019-2028.
Occupation usually requiring on-the-job training (Skill Level D) Shortage Balance Surplus Total
Number of Occupations 0 18 2 20
Employment in Base Year (2018) 0 1,935,200 38,200 1,973,400
Share of Total Employment in 2018 0.0% 10.4% 0.2% 10.6%

Source: ESDC 2019 COPS Projections.

Overall, the skill level D (occupations usually requiring on-the-job training) is projected to be in balanced labour market conditions over the period 2019-2028. This skill level, which includes 20 occupations, employed about 2.0 million workers in 2018 (10.6% of total employment). COPS projects similar numbers of job openings (600,800) and job seekers (646,500) in skill level D over the next decade.

Most occupations (18 out of 20) within this skill level are expected to experience balanced conditions. Employment in these occupations represented 1.9 million workers in 2018 (10.4% of total employment).

No occupation is projected to face shortage conditions, while only 2 occupations are expected to face surplus conditions. Those 2 occupations employed 38,200 workers in 2018 (0.2% of total employment).

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