Changes coming to NOC Codes in 2022
Canada recently introduced NOC 2021 and the immigration systems will incorporate the changes in Fall 2022. (Sept – Dec 2022)
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a major part of Canada’s immigration systems. Skilled workers and temporary foreign workers need to demonstrate that their work experience and skills correspond with NOC requirements of the program they are applying through. For example, Express Entry is currently the main way to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker, and applicants need to prove their work experience falls under NOC skill level 0, A, or B as one of the eligibility factors under Express Entry Programs.
The NOC system is Canada’s national reference tool for all occupations. It groups employment activities in Canada into categories to help understand the nature and diversity of the Canadian labour market, operate government programs, promote skills development, conduct research, and help Canada manage its immigration and foreign worker programs.
The federal government concludes a major revision of the NOC every decade and changes to the NOC codes reflect the changes within the Canadian economy, federally and provincially, and labour within specific markets.
During September 2021, Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) released NOC 2021 to the public for view.
NOC 2021 is the outcome of a major process that involved extensive research, analysis, and assessment of the Canadian economy over the past few years, which helped align the changes now seen in NOC 2021.
Currently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), ESDC, and Canada’s provinces and territories make use of NOC 2016 to operate immigration and foreign worker programs. In local news, IRCC explained that both it and ESDC will not implement NOC 2021 until the fall of 2022, which for those not in Canada is during the months of September to December.
The purpose of this delay in implementation, is that the federal government wants to give stakeholders, including immigration applicants, more time to learn about how NOC 2021 may affect them, the programs they are applying through, and how the changes will impact local labour markets.
ESDC has summarized 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 0/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 will no longer use the four skill type categories (i.e., NOC 0/A, B, C, D), and will now have a TEER system with six categories: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
How will immigrants and foreign workers be impacted?
For many immigration and foreign worker applicants, 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 and will 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 or for the programs they were previously eligible for.
At this point however, It remains unclear how applicants may be affected by this change. Stakeholders and applicants alike will need to wait for IRCC and ESDC to provide further information, which is anticipated over the coming months.
The Statistics Canada tool allows applicants 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:
Statistics Canada explains there are two significant reasons why the skill type model is being replaced by the new TEER system. Firstly, the new TEER system aims to provide more clarity on the level of education and work experience required to work in an occupation. Secondly, Statistics Canada believes the skill type model creates artificial categorizations between low- and high-skilled jobs.
Implementing the new TEER system will give stakeholders a better sense of the amount of skills required for each occupation.
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