Express Entry’s targeted occupations: how many transport workers does Canada need?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: September 30, 2023

Transport occupations are one of five sectors that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has chosen to prioritize through Express Entry category-based draws in 2023.

To better use immigration to address labour market gaps in specific Canadian industries, the federal government in this country began conducting category-based draws – in addition to standard ones* – through the Express Entry application management system in June** this year.

*“Standard” Express Entry draws use Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores as the main way of differentiating and ranking candidates against each other. Meanwhile, category-based draws prioritize candidates with specific work experience/skill proficiencies.

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Category-based draws, for 2023, are intended to bring in immigrants to help combat labour shortages in the following five specific occupational categories: healthcare; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); transport; trades; and agriculture/agri-food.

**IRCC’s first-ever category-based Express Entry draw was conducted on June 28 and there have since–as of the time of writing–been four additional category-based draws since then. The most recent category-based Express Entry draw for these five occupational categories took place on September 20, 2023 (more on this later).

Why transport occupations were chosen as a targeted Express Entry category

A September 2023 story from the Toronto Star, understanding that truck drivers are just one occupation within this category, cites a report that signals Canada’s trucker shortage could pose a “significant” risk to this country’s economy.

According to the report, “a lack of drivers results in shipment delays and barren shelves.” This is believed to be a contributing factor to the rising prices of goods across the country.

In light of this reality, it is worth noting this, cited by the same Toronto Star story from a report jointly developed by Trucking HR Canada and the Conference Board of Canada back in 2020: “Canada’s truck driver shortage … doubled in just four years [between 2016 and 2020].”

Given the influx of recent news across Canada about the rising cost of living and the impact that reality is having on Canadians from coast to coast, it makes sense that Canada’s federal government views the transport occupations sector as worthy of particular focus through IRCC’s new Express Entry category-based draws.

How many transport workers does Canada need?

While reported projections and figures vary depending on the source, Trucking HR Canada reports that “between now and 2025, Canada will need to hire more than 17,000 additional truck drivers yearly.”

Again, trucking has been chosen as the primary focus of this article – despite it being just one of many occupations under this Express Entry category – because Canada’s trucking shortage has been the most poignant concern reported on in the context of the country’s larger transport industry.

Further, the Toronto Star story mentioned earlier also indicates that Canada currently “has a shortage of [around] 20,000 truck drivers, [a figure that] could reach 30,000 in the coming years.”

More generally, Transport Canada data published the following figures this March referring to “projected labour shortages across the transportation sector” in the next 12 years.

  • Trucking (25,000 to 55,600 by 2023-2035)
  • Aviation (42,000 to 55,000 by 2025-2035)
  • Marine (1,000 to 19,000 by 2031-2035)
  • Rail (4,000 by 2035)

Taken together, the above data all suggests one thing: Canada needs thousands of new transport occupations workers in the coming years.

What opportunity does this present for prospective immigrants to Canada?

For new immigrants to Canada, this country’s clear need for transport occupation workers presents a significant amount of career opportunities for those with experience in these professions.

In other words, immigrants who come to Canada through IRCC’s Express Entry category-based draws for transport occupation workers may find plenty of opportunities to build long and rewarding careers in this country.

Additionally, transport occupations tend to pay a competitive wage in this country, which is something all Canadians–but especially immigrants to this country–strive to obtain with the rising cost of living.

According to data released by Statistics Canada (StatsCan) in 2021, the median wage for economic immigrant principal applicants in 2019 was $43,600. Broken down hourly (assuming full-time employment), this works out to $20.96. Meanwhile, StatsCan data cited by the Toronto Star this year indicates that “the average hourly wage of a long-haul truck driver in Canada is $27.80.”

Appropriately, not only do transport occupations present employment opportunities for new immigrants to Canada, but they also present lucrative wages in tandem.

History of transport Express Entry draws to date

As of the time of writing, IRCC has issued one round of invitations specifically for Canadian immigration candidates who are eligible for Express Entry because they have qualifying recent work experience in a transport occupation.

This draw was IRCC’s most recent category-based draw for an occupational category, which took place on September 20, 2023.

During this round of invitations, the immigration department issued 1,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence in Canada to Express Entry candidates with a minimum CRS score of 435.

Roughly a month and a half ago, the Globe and Mail published data obtained from IRCC, which provided some insight into what percentage of this year’s remaining ITAs will be issued to eligible candidates in each occupational group. Specific to transport occupations, this IRCC data noted that category-based draws for those with experience working in these professions would account for “one to two” percent of all ITAs given out through Express Entry for the rest of 2023.

Click here to see the results of every Express Entry draw completed by IRCC and be sure to revisit the hyperlinked page often, as it will be updated every time a new Express Entry draw is conducted.

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