Particularly challenging is matching the stringent engineering job requirements with the training and experience of recent graduates, without having to recruit abroad. According to a 2012 Randstad Engineering Canadian report, The Engineering Labour Market in Canada: Projections to 2020, "The core imbalance finds an abundance of Canadians seeking work as engineers coexisting with an acute shortage of engineering skills".
The report adds that, "requirements to replace retiring engineers far exceed the number of new jobs created by economic growth. This contributes to a skills shortage that is most acute in the market for specialized engineers with over ten years of experience. Third, there is an abundance of young engineering students enrolled in and completing engineering programs but lacking practical skills."
Although manufacturing activity in Canada is strong, in most regions the gains reflect a recovery from a very steep decline that began in 2007 or earlier. The report observes that few manufacturing industries have restored output to previous peaks and employment gains are restrained by productivity improvements.
Driving the demand that does exist for engineers in Canada are the retirement numbers, projected through 2020. The Randstad report forecasts over 95,000 retirement-related engineering job openings, as engineers fully or semi-retire, and sees this as "the dominant force driving labour requirements and recruiting."
As for young graduates, the report suggests that "declining enrollments may be a factor from 2015 to 2020, but graduations will continue to add to the workforce through most of the coming decade. In the base case scenario the number of new graduates entering the workforce reaches 102,000 or just under the total requirements of expansion and replacement demand. This pattern might be consistent with an oversupply of young engineers. create very tight markets for older, experienced and specialized engineers but weaker markets for young graduates."
Some of that demand, will, as now, be met by immigrants: "If the current levels are sustained a further 80,000 engineers will arrive by 2020. These gains represent just under half of the immigrants who arrived from 2001 to 2010."
Hence, recruitment requirements are "heavily skewed to replacing retiring workers with fewer new jobs related to expansion demands."
However, the report adds that, in numerical terms, projected new entrants to the workforce from post-secondary programs meet a large proportion of the requirements and current levels of immigration are more than sufficient to fill the balance.
Among the recommendations of the Randstad report regarding management of the engineering recruiting market, these are key:
* Retaining older engineers in the workforce longer and adding to programs to accelerate the on-the-job learning of new graduates,
* Adapting post-secondary programs to meet the specialized needs of employers,
Increasing the supply of engineers in the west, through post-secondary programs and immigration
* Adding flexibility and portability of specialized engineering services across regions and specialties.
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