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 : Social and community service workers (4212)

Occupational Outlook
BALANCE: Labour demand and labour supply are expected to be broadly in line for this occupation group over the 2019-2028 period at the national level. The section below contains more detailed information regarding the outlook for this occupational group.
Occupations in this Group
  • Social and community service workers (4212)
Skill Type
Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services
Skill Level
Occupations usually require college or vocational education or apprenticeship training.
Employment in 2018
132,200
Median Age of workers in 2018
39.1 years old
Estimated Median Age of Retirement in 2018
63 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 strongly. However, this was following a decline from a peaked reached back in 2013. Job gains were reflected in a marginal decline in the unemployment rate, reaching 4.7% in 2018, which remained below the national average of 5.8%. The low number of jobless workers combined with an increase in the job vacancies resulted in a decline in the available workers to fill those vacancies, reaching a ratio of about one unemployed per vacancy. However, the number of workers doing overtime hours declined substantially, reaching a new historical low in 2018. Hence, 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 period 2019-2028, the number of job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) for Social and community service workers are expected to total 67,700, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) is expected to total 64,200 .

As job openings and job seekers are projected to be at relatively similar levels over the 2019-2028 period, the balance between labour supply and demand seen in recent years is expected to continue over the projection period. Job openings are projected to arise from both employment growth and retirements. Given the major needs in the social services sector, job creation is projected to be above the average of all occupations, fueled by the public's greater awareness of social issues such as population aging, mental health and violence over the projection period. However, this strong growth is projected to be dampened by the fact that demand for social and community service workers also depends on the level of public spending, which will be restrained due to budget constraints that many governments are facing. Retirements are expected to account for about one third of openings. Workers in this occupational group tend to be younger than the average of all occupations and to retire at a similar age. As a result, the retirement rate is expected to be slightly below the national average.

With regard to labour supply, school leavers are expected to account for almost 80% of job seekers. This occupational grouping is very popular among school leavers, which is a reflection of the high enrolment rate in social work programs in colleges and universities. Immigration is anticipated to represent about 10% of job seekers. Finally, a number of seekers will come from other occupations, such as counselors and educators.

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: 38,700 57%
Retirements: 22,500 33%
Other Replacement Demand: 3,200 5%
Emigration: 3,300 5%
Projected Job Openings: 67,700 100%
This table contains data related to Projected Job Seekers.
Level Share
School Leavers: 50,200 78%
Immigration: 7,000 11%
Other: 6,900 11%
Projected Job Seekers: 64,200 100%
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