Canadian immigration is making major changes to the NOC in 2022

Kareem El-Assal
Published: October 30, 2021

Canada has introduced NOC 2021 and the immigration system will incorporate the changes in 2022.

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a major part of Canada's immigration system. Skilled worker candidates and temporary foreign workers need to demonstrate their work experience corresponds with NOC requirements of the program they are applying to. For instance, Express Entry is the main way to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker, and candidates need to demonstrate their work experience falls under NOC skill level 0, A, or B as one of the eligibility factors under Express Entry.

The NOC is Canada's national reference for occupations. It categorizes employment activities in Canada to help understand the nature of the Canadian labour market, run government programs, promote skills development, conduct research, and help Canada manage its immigration and foreign worker programs.

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Every ten years, the federal government conducts a major revision of the NOC. Changes to the NOC reflect changes to the Canadian economy and labour market.

In September, Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) unveiled NOC 2021.

NOC 2021 is the final outcome of a major process that involved extensive research, analysis, and assessment of the Canadian economy.

Currently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), ESDC, and Canada's provinces and territories use NOC 2016 to operate immigration and foreign worker programs. In an email to CIC News, IRCC explained that both it and ESDC will not implement NOC 2021 until the fall of 2022.

The reason for this is the federal government wants to give stakeholders, including immigration applicants, more time to learn about how NOC 2021 may affect them.

Summary of changes

ESDC summarizes the changes to NOC 2021 as follows:

  • The NOC's current four-category "skill level" structure has been overhauled and replaced by a new six-category system that outlines the level of Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) to enter each occupation. Up until now, the NOC has featured 4 skill levels. NOC A represents jobs that tend to require university degrees, NOC B represents jobs that are in the skilled trades or require a college diploma, NOC C represents jobs that require intermediate skills or job-specific training, and NOC D are labour jobs that require on the job training.
  • NOC 2021 will use a five-tier hierarchical system to classify occupations. Occupations will now have a five-digit codification system instead of the current four-digit system.

NOC 2021 no longer uses the four skill type categories (i.e., NOC A, B, C, D), and now has a TEER system with six categories: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

TEER 0
  • Management occupations.
TEER 1
  • Completion of a university degree (bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate); or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 2 (when applicable).
TEER 2
  • Completion of a post-secondary education program of two to three years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP; or
  • Completion of an apprenticeship training program of two to five years; or
  • Occupations with supervisory or significant safety (police officers and firefighters) responsibilities; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 3 (when applicable).
TEER 3
  • Completion of a post-secondary education program of less than two years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP; or
  • Apprenticeship training of less than 2 years; or
  • More than six months of on-the-job training, training courses or specific work experience with some secondary school education; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 4 (when applicable).
TEER 4
  • Completion of secondary school; or
  • Several weeks of on-the-job training with some secondary school education; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 5 (when applicable).
TEER 5
  • Short work demonstration and no formal educational requirements.

How will immigrants and foreign workers be impacted?

For many immigration and foreign worker candidates, NOC 2021 will have little to no impact on them. This is because despite changes to the NOC, their work experience will continue to meet the eligibility criteria for their desired immigration or foreign worker program. On the other hand, the changes will help some applicants while hurt others. Some may now find themselves eligible for additional programs since their work experience has been reclassified. Others may find themselves no longer eligible for the same reason.

It remains unclear at this point how applicants will be affected. Stakeholders will need to continue to wait for IRCC and ESDC to provide further information.

This Statistics Canada tool allows individuals to see how their current NOC corresponds with NOC 2021. The table below provides an indication of how the four NOC skill levels have been redistributed across the six new TEER groups.

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Distribution of Unit Groups by Skill Level NOC 2021 V1.0 Distribution of Unit Groups by TEER
TEER Category 0 9%
Skill Level A 28% TEER Category 1 19%
Skill Level B 42% TEER Category 2 31%
Skill Level C 24% TEER Category 3 13%
Skill Level D 6% TEER Category 4 18%
TEER Category 5 9%

Statistics Canada explains there are two major reasons why the skill type model is being replaced by the TEER system. First, the TEER system aims to provide more clarity on the level of education and work experience required to work in an occupation. Second, Statistics Canada believes the skill type model creates artificial categorizations between low- and high-skilled jobs. Implementing TEER will hopefully give stakeholders a better sense of the amount of skills required for each occupation.

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