Healthcare and STEM make up the majority of occupations eligible for Express Entry category-based selection

Edana Robitaille
Published: June 30, 2023

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced new selection categories for Express Entry candidates on May 31.

Yesterday, IRCC held the first-ever Express Entry category-based draw inviting healthcare workers. It says it will invite more healthcare workers over the coming week. In addition, IRCC plans to hold its first round of category-based draws for STEM workers next week.

The categories are largely dependent on a candidate's occupation or work experience in a specific, in-demand field.

IRCC says the new categories were chosen based on labour market information, including projections, and input from stakeholders across the country.

Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry

The department used this data to select six new categories for Express Entry candidates in upcoming draws this year. The new categories are meant to support Canada’s economic goals or promote francophone immigration outside of Quebec.

The new categories are:

  • Healthcare occupations
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations
  • Trade occupations
  • Transport occupations
  • Agriculture and agri-food occupations
  • French-language proficiency

All these categories are considered in-demand and important to keeping Canada’s economy and labour force strong. However, two selection categories stand out for the number of eligible occupations.

Healthcare occupations lead in demand

Canada’s population is aging, and the birthrate is among the lowest globally. It is expected that nine million Canadians will reach 65 by 2030. This means that in the coming years there will be increased demand on the healthcare system and fewer people to fill the gaps in the labour force left by a large number of retirements.

Selecting immigration candidates with proven experience in a healthcare occupation may reduce the incoming pressure on Canada’s healthcare system, which is already strained.

Recent job vacancy data from Statistics Canada shows that there were 144,500 vacant positions within the healthcare and social assistance sector as of March 2023, accounting for 17.7% of all unfilled positions.

Nearly half of the eligible occupations for the new category-based draws fall within the healthcare category and include a wide range of occupations:

  • Audiologists and speech language pathologists
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Dieticians and nutritionists
  • Education counsellors
  • General practitioners and family physicians
  • Instructors of persons with disabilities
  • Kinesiologists and other professional occupation in therapy and assessment
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Massage therapists
  • Medical laboratory assistants and related technical occupations
  • Medical laboratory technologists
  • Medical radiation technologists
  • Medical sonographers
  • Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nursing coordinators and supervisors
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Other assisting occupations in support of health services
  • Other practitioners of natural healing
  • Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating
  • Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment
  • Paramedical occupations
  • Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants
  • Physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
  • Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • Specialists in clinical and laboratory medicine
  • Specialists in surgery
  • Therapists in counselling and related specialized therapies
  • Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists
  • Veterinarians

STEM occupations

Occupations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are also growing in demand in Canada. A report by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada showed that Information, Communications and Technology industry revenues reached an estimated $242 billion in 2021.

Canada is also a hub for AI (artificial intelligence) with 1,032 AI and machine learning companies and Invest in Canada reports that Canada ranks fourth for its global competitiveness in AI implementation, innovation, and investment.

A report released by Statistics Canada last November says that the high rate of retirement and rapidly evolving technology and automation used in business and day-to-day life is contributing to a skills gap in Canada’s labour force. It says that this is causing some employers in Canada to hire candidates who are less qualified, which can slow business growth.

Many of the occupations eligible under the STEM category have competitive starting salaries. A Statistics Canada report released in April this year shows that the median starting income for international students in a STEM occupation with an undergraduate degree (as of 2019) was $52,000.

There are 23 STEM occupations listed as eligible for category-based selection draws.

  • Architects
  • Architecture and science managers
  • Business systems specialists
  • Civil Engineers
  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)
  • Computer systems developers and programmers
  • Cybersecurity specialists
  • Data scientists
  • Database analysts and data administrators
  • Electrical and electronics engineers
  • Engineering managers
  • Industrial and manufacturing engineers
  • Information systems specialists
  • Land surveyors
  • Landscape Architects
  • Mathematicians, statisticians, and actuaries
  • Metallurgical and materials engineers
  • Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants, and program officers
  • Software developers and programmers
  • Software engineers and designers
  • Urban and land use planners
  • Web designers
  • Web developers and programmers

Eligibility for the new categories

If a candidate has the required work experience for one of these categories, which is at least six months of continuous work experience in an eligible occupation (within the past three years) in Canada or abroad, they must still ensure they are eligible for an Express Entry program. Having the necessary work experience alone is not enough to be eligible.

Express Entry is an application management system that oversees the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. These programs all have their own work experience, education and language criteria that must be met to enter the Express Entry application pool.

In the new selection category draws, IRCC says it will still be ranking candidates using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Those who have higher scores are still the most likely to receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.

Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry

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