Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Search for Occupational Projection Summaries (2019-2028)

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 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.

Note: The projections were developed for 293 occupational groupings that cover the entire workforce, using the 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC). For additional information on these groupings, please visit the COPS Occupational Groupings' Definition. For more information about the methodology used to assess each occupation, please click here.

Search Result : Software engineers and designers (2173)

Occupational Outlook
SHORTAGE: This occupational group is expected to face labour shortage conditions over the period of 2019-2028 at the national level. The section below contains more detailed information regarding the outlook for this occupational group.
Occupations in this Group
  • Software engineers and designers (2173)
Skill Type
Natural and applied sciences and related occupations
Skill Level
Occupations usually require university education.
Employment in 2018
57,600
Median Age of workers in 2018
40.7 years old
Estimated Median Age of Retirement in 2018
61 years old

In order to determine the expected outlook of an occupation, the magnitude of the difference between the projected total numbers of new job seekers and job openings over the whole projection period (2019-2028) is analyzed in conjunction with an assessment of labour market conditions in recent years. The intention is to determine if recent labour market conditions (surplus, balance or shortage) are expected to persist or change over the period 2019-2028. For instance, if the analysis of key labour market indicators suggests that the number of job seekers was insufficient to fill the job openings (a shortage of workers) in an occupational group in recent years, the projections are used to assess if this situation will continue over the projection period or if the occupation will move towards balanced conditions.

Over the 2016-2018 period, employment in this occupational group increased at a pace substantially higher than the average of all occupations. This was reflected in a decline of its unemployment rate, reaching a low historical point and remaining significantly below the national average in 2018. Additionally, the job vacancy rate was significantly higher than average, while the number of unemployed workers per job vacancy was consistently below one over the same period. Hence, the analysis of key labour market indicators suggests that the number of job openings exceeded substantially the number of job seekers in this occupational group over the 2016-2018 period.

Over the period 2019-2028, the number of job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) for Software engineers and designers are expected to total 27,500, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) is expected to total 24,000 .

The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years are expected to persist into the 2019-2028 period, and could 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. Retirements and job growth are expected to account for the majority of job openings. Employment is projected to grow at a significantly higher rate than the average of all occupations. As a result, job creation will represent more than half of all openings, a proportion that is above the average of all occupations (about 27% of openings). Most of these workers are employed in the industries of computer systems design and related services, as well as in telecommunications, information and culture services. Computer systems design will continue outperforming most industries in terms of production and employment growth, as demand is expected to be supported by technological changes. Rapid innovation will continue, inducing Canadian firms to adapt quickly and upgrade their IT infrastructure to remain competitive. 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 as well as 5G mobile will also provide job opportunities for software engineers and designers. Retirements will also account for a significant proportion of job openings (about 35%). The retirement rate is expected to be similar to the average of all occupations as these workers tend to have a similar age structure to that of all occupations and tend to retire at a similar age.

With regard to labour supply, the number of computer science school leavers is projected to continue to be high since this field of study remains attractive to young people. Immigration will continue to be a major contributor to job seekers, as this occupational group is very popular among newcomers. The skills typically required in this occupation are usually standard worldwide and not unique to the Canadian labour market. As a result, there are lower barriers for immigrants to become software engineers and designers. In addition, 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 permanency in the country. Conversely, a significant number of workers are expected to leave this occupation for other occupations, in particular to seek jobs in information and technology related occupations such as information systems analysts and consultants (NOC 2171). As a result, the shortage conditions observed in recent years are expected to become more acute over the projection period.

Projection of Cumulative Job Openings and Job Seekers over the Period of 2019-2028

This table contains data related to Projected Job Openings.
Level Share
Expansion Demand: 14,800 54%
Retirements: 9,700 35%
Other Replacement Demand: 1,600 6%
Emigration: 1,400 5%
Projected Job Openings: 27,500 100%
This table contains data related to Projected Job Seekers.
Level Share
School Leavers: 25,200 105%
Immigration: 16,500 69%
Other: -17,600 -73%
Projected Job Seekers: 24,000 100%
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