Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Search for Occupational Projection Summaries (2022-2031)

The 2022 COPS exercise was developed using the 2016 version of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). The 2016 NOC has 500 occupations. However, many of these occupations are small in terms of employment. Such 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 were obtained. Although NOC already has a more recent version (2021), the model’s input data were only available in the 2016 version of the NOC at the time of the development of the projections.

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

Search Result : Software engineers and designers (2173)

Occupational Outlook
SHORTAGE: This occupational group is expected to face labour shortage conditions over the period of 2022-2031 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 2021
Median Age of workers in 2021
38.6 years old
Estimated Median Age of Retirement in 2021
62 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 (2022-2031) 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 2022-2031. 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. It is important to note that COPS does not identify imbalances that may temporarily appear during specific years, unless they will persist over the longer run.

Over the 2019-2021 period, employment in this occupational group increased at a very strong pace, substantially higher than the average of all occupations. Despite this, the unemployment rate remained stable, at a low historical point and significantly below the national average over the entire period. Additionally, the number of job vacancy increased significantly, slightly surpassing the strong increase in employment resulting in a small increase in the vacancy rate. The number of unemployed per job vacancy remained stable and very low, considerably below one over the period. Employment in this occupation has been trending up over the past decade largely driven by technological progress. During the pandemic years of 2020-2021, this occupation recorded substantial additional gains, as many businesses adopted telework policies, and consumption leaned stronger towards e-commerce, supporting demand for IT services. Overall, the analysis of these and other key labour market indicators suggests that the demand exceeded substantially the supply in this occupational group over the 2019-2021 period.

Over the period 2022-2031, the number of job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) for Software engineers and designers are expected to total 44,300, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) is expected to total 48,800.

This gap is not considered to be statistically significant, which means that the number of job openings and job seekers are projected to be relatively similar over the 2022-2031 period. As such, the labour shortage conditions seen in recent years will not clear and are expected to persist over the projection period. Employment is projected to grow at a significantly higher rate than the average of all occupations. As a result, job creation will represent around 68% of all openings, a proportion that is substantially above the average of all occupations (about 37% of openings). Most of these workers are employed in the computer systems design and related services industry; in telecommunications, information, and culture services; as well as in finance, insurance, real estate, and leasing 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. Demand for workers in this occupation will continue to be driven by the need for businesses and governments to continually upgrade their ICT systems in order to keep up with the most recent technologies and remain competitive. Indeed, computer services benefit from the constant development of innovative computer and communications products that are designed and serviced by the industry. Cloud-based platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and open-source software continue to gain in popularity, while the implementation of 5G networks and further developments in advanced manufacturing, autonomous transport, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, language processing and biometric security represent a multitude of growth opportunities. Consumers and businesses own multiple electronic devices and are increasingly asking for compatibility, transferability, and access to their content from any of those devices. 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 will also provide job opportunities for software engineers and designers. Retirements will account for a smaller than average proportion of job openings (about 21%). The retirement rate is expected to be quite lower than the average of all occupations as these workers tend to be younger compared to other occupations, but also tend to retire at only a slightly younger age.

Regarding labour supply, given the important level of enrolment in post-secondary programs, the number of software engineers and designers school leavers is projected to continue to be high since this field of study remains attractive to young people. They are expected to be mostly bachelor graduates, but also Master and PhD graduates, accounting for about two-thirds of all job seekers. Immigration will continue to be an important source of job seekers (about 36%), 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 seeking employment in this occupational group from countries that have a free trade agreement with a labour component with Canada could be eligible to work in Canada, making it easier for them to enter and permanently remain 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), or to become computer and information systems manager (NOC 0213). This negative mobility will be sufficient to offset the large number of school leavers and immigrants, relatively levelling the projected flows of job openings and seekers over the projected period and allowing the recent situation of labour shortage to persist over the long run.

Projection of Cumulative Job Openings and Job Seekers over the Period of 2022-2031

This table contains data related to Projected Job Openings.
Level Share
Expansion Demand: 30,300 68%
Retirements: 9,500 21%
Other Replacement Demand: 2,000 5%
Emigration: 2,500 6%
Projected Job Openings: 44,300 100%
This table contains data related to Projected Job Seekers.
Level Share
School Leavers: 41,500 85%
Immigration: 23,000 47%
Other: -15,600 -32%
Projected Job Seekers: 48,800 100%
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