Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers are vital to global innovation, economic growth and improving our standard of living. Recent data indicates that STEM careers are experiencing the fastest growth rates in Canada. The demand for STEM talent in Canada is outpacing the supply. There are simply not enough new STEM graduates to address the talent shortfall. According to a recent study, one in four Canadian STEM graduates opts to work outside of Canada, further amplifying the skills shortage. As a result, many Canadian companies are looking to outside Canada for STEM talent.
The Government of Canada is prioritizing STEM learning through the Canada 2067 initiative as well as other initiatives aimed at increasing the participation of Canadians in STEM, including under-represented groups such as women. As of June 12, 2017, the Government of Canada launched the Global Talent Stream, a two-year pilot project intended for innovative firms in Canada that have a need to hire unique and specialized temporary foreign workers in order to scale-up and grow. It is also meant for firms in Canada that are seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations on the Global Talent Occupations List. Building on the success of the pilot project, the Government of Canada’s Federal Budget 2019 committed $35.2 million over five years, beginning in 2019–20, to make the Global Talent Stream a permanent program.
STEM sectors and fields of work
STEM careers and fields of work are wide ranging and span virtually every industrial sector including advanced manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, defence, mining, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, electricity, information technology, financial, hospitality, retail, transportation, healthcare and the environment.
- In Canada, immigrants represent a significant portion of the population with a STEM degree. In 2011, 46% of university-educated immigrant men aged 25 to 34 had STEM degree, compared with 32% of their Canadian-born counterparts. Among female university graduates aged 25 to 34, immigrants were twice as likely to have a STEM degree as the Canadian-born (23% versus 13%). (Statistics Canada)
- In 2015, women who graduated from a STEM field earned 82.1% of what men who graduated from a STEM field earned. This is partly because men tend to study in high‑paying STEM fields: over three‑quarters of men who studied in STEM programs completed their bachelor’s degree in either ‘engineering’ or ‘mathematics and computer and information sciences.’ In contrast, women were more likely to complete their bachelor’s degree in lower‑paying STEM fields: over 4 in 10 women who studied in STEM fields completed their degree in ‘biological sciences.’ (Statistics Canada, 2016 Census Analytical Product)
- Overall, young graduates with a bachelor’s degree in STEM fields of study had higher earnings in 2015 than those in business, humanities, health, arts, social science and education (BHASE) fields of study. (Statistics Canada, 2016 Census Analytical Product)
- According to Statistics Canada, Women represent the majority of young university graduates, but are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science (STEM) fields.
- According to the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada Vision 2025 report released in June 2019, the Canadian aerospace sector’s share of STEM workers is two times the national manufacturing average, and women hold nearly a quarter of all STEM-related aerospace jobs in Canada. However, because the average age of aerospace workers in Canada is 54, the industry faces a significant labour shortage. It is estimated that 50,000 new workers will be required to replace those leaving the sector in the coming years.
- Canada faces a shortage of 3,000 pilots and 55,000 workers overall in the aviation industry by 2025 – caused by retirements, industry growth and barriers to recruiting new workers. (Ottawa Citizen, October 2, 2018)
- The Information and Communications Technology Council’s (ICTC) Labour Market Outlook 2017 – 2021 report published in April 2017 indicates that Canada will need to fill approximately 216,000 technology-related positions by 2021, largely driven by the growth of the digital economy in five emerging sectors: virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), 3D printing, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G mobile technology.