On February 7, Marie Carter, P.Eng., chief operating officer of Engineers Canada, gave a summary of the situation facing the engineering sector before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science & Technology.
Her primary emphasis was on the "looming" shortage of experienced engineers due to the number of retirees expected in the next decade (95,000 expected retirees out of a current total of 255,000 licensed professionals), (see also CCE news, February 4).
Carter explained that as part of their efforts to resolve the expected skills shortage, Engineers Canada is promoting diversity and attracting women and indigenous people into engineering. The organization is also working with the federal government to streamline the immigration system.
During the presentation Carter also provided interesting statistics that provide a snapshot of the current state of the profession:
- based on the 2006 Census, women comprised 47% of the general work force in Canada, but only 13% of engineers.
- From 1986 to 2006, the proportion of women who were engineers increased by only 6.1%.
- The rate of engagement by indigenous people in engineering is also "very low."
- More than 20% of the professional engineers in Canada were trained internationally.
- The provincial engineering licensing organizations process about 5,500 applications from immigrants every year, and this is one of the highest rates for the regulated professions.
Carter also explained to the committee that Engineers Canada and the provincial bodies are working to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics to young people. They are asking governments to ensure that science and mathematics curricula are adequately preparing students to go into post-secondary engineering programs.
Engineers Canada relaunched its website for internationally trained engineers last month to make it a "single, comprehensive source" of information for prospective engineer immigrants. Improvements on the site include the use of simple plain language for people whose first language is not English or French, and a tool to compare foreign degree qualifications with Canadian engineering degrees.