Along the Toronto-Waterloo corridor in Ontario, more than 5,000 Canadian tech startups have taken root. Meanwhile, cities like Vancouver, Montreal, and Ottawa have become thriving centres for innovation.
STEM jobs, like those in science, technology, engineering, and math, are in demand like never before, with annual STEM job growth hitting 4.6 percent (compared to 1.8 percent for the overall job market as of 2017).[i]
Those interested in computer science may wonder is 2019’s STEM job growth likely to remain sustainable in the future?
In this blog, we’ll forecast the future of domestic technology and point out opportunities for job-seekers to bear in mind.
What are the STEM Occupations?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
As an academic streat, it differs from HASS disciplines such as the humanities, arts, and social sciences). Examples of STEM occupations include:
- Medical Doctors
How is STEM Occupational Outlook?
Employment prospects in STEM disciplines are promising. If you have a quality education, solid interpersonal skills, and an enticing project portfolio, you have the potential to work in your field of interest almost anywhere in North America.
The finance, healthcare and high-tech sectors, in particular, are booming, as there is a high demand for university-educated STEM professionals in Canada and the United States.[ii]
Canadian spending on the cloud, mobile technologies, and digital content increased by $1.1 billion between 2015 and 2019, creating huge opportunities for IT professionals.[iii]
In 2014, roughly 6 million Canadians were aged 65 or older. By 2030, that number is projected to reach 9.5 million, or 23 percent of the population [iv], which is expected to create openings in STEM occupations in at least two ways:
1. Many positions will be vacated as current professionals enter retirement.
Due to a STEM talent shortage, competition among employers to replace these retirees is fierce, and workers are benefiting with higher wages.
2. An aging demographic is expected to put more stress on a healthcare system already experimenting with the integration of smart technologies.
For example, the HR consulting firm Randstad notes that job openings in biomedical engineering are expected to grow by upwards of 72 percent in the decades to come.[v]
Why is Canada Facing a Talent Shortage?
Despite the lucrative pay in STEM and high-tech careers, Canadian employers are struggling to fill their staffing needs. The reasons for this talent shortage are varied.
1. A relatively low percentage of graduates in STEM programs:
Although Canada ranks at or near the top of OECD rankings for post-secondary education,[vi] just 18.6 percent of working-age Canadians graduated from STEM programs in 2016.
A survey by the Conference Board of Canada found that Canada ranked 12th out of 16 peer countries in this category, ahead of the U.S. but far behind leaders like Finland, Germany, Austria, and France.[vii]
2. Underrepresentation of women:
Although more women than men complete post-secondary education, their enrolment in STEM programs has historically been lower. With the exception of life sciences such as medicine, men make up the majority of STEM student populations on campus. [viii]
This division becomes even more pronounced in the professional ranks. For example, while 20 percent of engineering graduates are female, just 11 percent go on to work in the field.[ix]
In fact, nearly 73 percent of students in the information sciences are male. If the same number of women were to enrol as men, that would put close to 35,000 new graduates into the job market over the next few years.[x]
3. The Silicon Valley “talent drain”:
A stunning 66 percent of recent Canadian software engineering graduates from top universities now work in the United States, according to a 2018 report by The Globe & Mail; these engineers are often able to earn between 13 percent and 44 percent more, even after cost-of-living expenses are factored in.[xi]
While this has serious implications for domestic R&D and innovation, and for a government that pours billions into subsidizing Canadian universities, it also demonstrates the vast career opportunities available to STEM graduates.
Opportunity for Canadian Immigrants
Though immigrants often have difficulty receiving equal consideration for jobs, they hold over 50 percent of STEM degrees in Canada, with one-third of these degrees being completed in Canada.[xii] STEM job growth in 2019 has presented a rare opportunity for immigrants to pursue success on more equitable terms, and these employees have proven crucial to the stability of STEM industries.
Canadian immigration policy has long favoured applicants with STEM backgrounds, software developers among the most likely candidates to be considered for express entry. [xiii]
Canadian provinces have their own Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP), which are generally used to fill employment gaps. For immigrants looking to make a home in Canada with a healthy salary, STEM credentials are a strong asset.
An Evolving Field
Accessible programs like Laurier’s online Master of Computer Science degree offer flexibility and a community of learners who value diversity. With jobs on the rise, the STEM field offers promising growth for a lucrative career.
Read our blog on Top STEM Skills in Business.