The information on this webpage, authored by Paul Martin P.Eng., was originally published on the website of “Engineers for Engineers” in 2005. That website no longer exists, so the links given below no longer work.
In 2013, there are still extremely serious indications that the lessons of this information have been largely over-looked - in that there is still no general recognition at federal government level, and generally, of the true short-fall in engineering  jobs available relative to the numbers of engineers applying for jobs at any given time. In fact, this is part of a much larger general problem across all the trades and professions in Canada.
Since 2003 I have seen figures between 36 and 5,000 quoted for the number of people applying for any and every job opening in engineering and technology.  As an example, Paul Swinwood quoted a range of 300 to 800 in April 2003 when he was President of the then-Software Human Resources Council in Canada. You sometimes see figures - typically in the range of 4 to 7- quoted for the ratio of people looking for jobs to job openings available, but where each of these people has to apply for many jobs before achieving success.
Therefore, I would caution anybody against assuming that the information is “out of date”, or some such. That said, better information has since become available.
What is shown here will become “out of date” only when the lessons of it have been fully taken account of by the federal government and others in the management of the Canadian economy - such that it actually provides full employment for all who want to work or need to work, including professional engineers.
Robert T. Chisholm, Nov. 27 2013 – Associate Member, O.S.P.E.
Backgrounder: Engineering Supply In Canada


“Recent graduates and recent immigrants seeking work as engineers in Canada have been suffering unprecedented problems in finding employment. The reason is simple: supply has out-stripped reasonable expectations of demand for engineers by a wide margin.


Cumulative over-supply of engineers 1990-2002


Even if we assume that there was full employment for engineers in 1990 (there wasn’t!), and that engineering job growth out-stripped economic and general jobs growth in Canada by a margin of two to one (a figure I consider to be optimistic), we’re STILL looking at a cumulative over-supply to Canada of some 85,000 engineers between 1990 and 2002 (see the inset graph generated using these assumptions). Given that engineering supply rates have stabilized near or above 2002 levels for 2003 and 2004, it is certain that the cumulative over-supply of engineers has now exceeded 100,000- and it’s growing daily with no end in sight!

Considering there are only ~66,000 licensed professional engineers in the Province of Ontario, this is a very drastic over-supply situation!

An increasing number of “skilled workers” are being lured to Canada by promises of a great future, only to find a near total lack of opportunity due to over-supply. Graduates of engineering, after enduring a tough course of study and after accumulating considerable student debt, are also finding that there are few opportunities for them to gain entry to the profession.

With misinformation about the supply and demand situation, recent immigrants increasingly conclude that they are being deliberately excluded from the profession of engineering despite a shortage of engineers. And they are lobbying to eliminate licensing rules (such as the Canadian experience year) which are essential to protect public safety. In reality, the recent immigrants (and recent grads too) are being out-competed for a limited number of jobs by engineers who already have Canadian experience and who therefore a lower “hire risk” to prospective employers.

What Can We Do About the Over-Supply Situation?

Should we panic, close the engineering schools and slam the doors shut to immigration for engineers? Certainly not! This site is NOT anti-immigration or anti-student- quite the opposite! Immigration is beneficial to Canada culturally, to offset Canada’s declining birth rate, and in other ways too numerous to mention. And we will always need young, fresh engineers to replace engineers who retire or leave the profession for other opportunities. But sensible immigration policy must take into account job market realities, or run the risk of creating huge problems in the lives of recent immigrants. The same goes for the process of setting university enrollments in professional programs like engineering.

It is clear that all prospective engineering students and engineering immigrants deserve access to up-to-date, region- and discipline-specific information about labour force demand and the outcomes of previous waves of students/immigrants prior to making their critical decision to enter an engineering program of study, or to immigrate to Canada. This site is my own small attempt to begin that process. If engineering immigrants persist and come to Canada despite knowledge of the over-supply situation and the (poor) outcomes of the previous wave of immigrants- they’re absolutely welcome- but we will not be pressured to destroy the institutions of our profession and put the public safety at risk in a vain attempt to find them jobs!

To promote membership in our profession when it is in a state of massive over-supply is not in anyone’s best interests, except perhaps in the narrow, short-term interests of a few greedy businesspeople who profit from low wages and inferior working condition expectations brought about by our current oversupply. But if immigrants come in full knowledge that they may have to change careers to find work here, or take an inferior job to provide a better life for their children- that’s their business, and in fact it is the proud history of a great many previous immigrants to Canada.


Sources of Data


All the data presented on this site is derived from publicly-available sources- some of which you have to pay money to receive access to. Here is a list of some of the data sources, in more detail than presented on the facing page:

  1. CCPE reports of total undergraduate degrees granted by CEAB-accredited institutions in Canada
  2. CIC data for skilled worker, principal applicants only (not including dependants)
  3. CIC data as collected for the CCPE licensure uptake study, CRG File 03-175, as summarized by The Corporate Research Group Ltd., reportedly including dependants of principal applicants. 1990 through 1996 figures are ratio estimates from number from item 2
  4. Total of CEAB grads (row 1) and immigrants (row 3)
  5. Stats Canada data for real GDP in $US
  6. BMO Financial Group- Real GDP and Employment Growth (
  7. Stats Canada data for Canadian total workforce, in thousands (table 282-0007, labour force survey 3701)
  8. Relative Canadian employment growth, product of Canadian workforce growth since 1990 and CEAB grads rate, 1990 from source 1
  9. Total engineers per year in 1990, extrapolated based on twice the rate of national overall labour force growth (7) every year since then
  10. Cumulative oversupply: number of engineers graduated/immigrated each year (row 3a)in excess of estimated demand (row 7b) since 1990
Engineers and Licensure

Unlike most regulated professions, there are both licensed and non-licensed engineers in Canada. Roughly 50% of engineers who graduate in Canada go on to obtain a license to practice professional engineering. Licensed professional engineers have legal rights and responsibilities granted by the provincial Engineering Acts as administered and enforced by the provincial engineering licensure bodies. However, in reality it is neither necessary to have a license to find a job as an engineer, nor is having a license any guarantee of finding employment in Canada.

Rather than forcing all graduates to take technical examinations prior to licensure, the profession of engineering has chosen to accredit educational programs and degree-granting institutions. All professional engineers in Ontario, for instance, must meet the following requirements (see for details): they must be of good character, they must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in applied science from an accredited university program OR pass the required technical examinations, and they must have a minimum of four years of mentored experience (an “internship” as is common in all regulated professions). At least one year of mentored experience must be gained in Canada, to ensure the applicant has adequate knowledge of the applicable Canadian codes, standards, regulations and business practices required to practice as a professional engineer. Once an applicant has met these requirements, they must also pass a written Professional Practice Examination testing their knowledge of the ethical and legal responsibilities of a professional engineer.

Taking the province of Ontario as an example, prospective immigrants can begin the licensure application process prior to immigration to Canada. Currently, Professional Engineers Ontario receives more applications from internationally-educated engineers than it does from those graduating from Canadian universities. About 70% of engineers educated outside Canada who apply for licenses in Ontario are granted recognition of their engineering education without having to write a single technical exam (unlike virtually any other profession in Canada). And if an applicant meets all of the educational and experience requirements except for the 12-month Canadian experience requirement, they can be granted a Provisional License. Currently, ~ 30% of PEO’s licensees were educated outside Canada. Does this sound like a “closed profession” which does not accept newcomers? Hardly! In fact, the engineering profession has received awards for how open and accepting it is toward newcomers!

What Has Caused the Oversupply Situation?


A number of factors have combined to produce the oversupply of engineers:

Startling Facts In Relation to the Current Over-Supply and Under-Utilization of Engineers
Concrete Measures YOU Can Take to Combat the Oversupply of Engineers
References and Suggested Reading

CCPE’s From Consideration To Integration reports from Phases I and II



Publications of the Council of Ontario Universities



PEO’s information with respect to the licensure of recent immigrant engineers (

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Facts and Figures