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New NOC Classification System for Immigrants & Temporary Workers

02 November, 2021

Photo of Lawyer Hans 'John' KalinaBy Hans 'John' Kalina

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Canada’s immigration system will overhaul the way it classifies occupations in fall 2022.

The changes will affect some economic class and foreign worker applicants, although the federal government has yet to communicate which sorts of applicants will be affected.

The Current National Occupational Classification System – NOC 2016

Canada’s system for categorizing occupations is called the National Occupational Classification (NOC). The NOC is updated every five years to ensure it reflects Canada’s changing labour market. It gets overhauled about every 10 years, making the new edition the biggest upgrade since 2011. Statistics Canada released its new NOC 2021 publication last month.

The NOC is important for Canadian immigration because it is used by federal and provincial governments to manage skilled worker immigration programs along with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). An potential Canadian immigrant or temporary foreign worker must meet the NOC eligibility criteria of the program they are applying to.

Under the Express Entry criteria, skilled worker immigration applicants must demonstrate they have work experience in a NOC that falls under one of the following codes:

  • NOC 0: Skill type 0 jobs are usually managerial in nature.
  • NOC A: Skill type A jobs are professional in nature and usually require a university degree; or
  • NOC B: Skill type B jobs are skilled trades occupations that usually require a college diploma or training as an apprentice.

NOC C and D are also used by some provincial programs and some skilled trade programs to assess work experience.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and Canada’s provinces and territories, currently use NOC 2016 to assess eligibility for skilled worker immigration programs.

The department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has also been using NOC 2016 to evaluate Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications.

The LMIA is the Canadian government’s labour market test. It is required under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) for workers wished to work in Canada. When it evaluates an LMIA application, ESDC must determine whether the hiring of a foreign national will have a positive or neutral impact on workers in Canada. If successful, a foreign national can take their LMIA and job offer letters in support of their work permit applications to IRCC.

New TEER system replaces NOC skill levels

Rather than the current approach of categorizing jobs based on skill type, the Canadian government will now categorize jobs based on a new Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) system.

Currently, NOC skill levels fall under four categories: A, B, C, and D. NOC 2021 moves away from this approach and introduces the TEER system which has six categories: TEER category 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

  • Management occupations.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Short work demonstration and no formal educational requirements.

Why the Canadian government is replacing NOC skill levels with TEERs

Statistics Canada explains this change is necessary for several reasons:

First, defining occupations on “skill levels” is confusing, because the NOC focuses on occupations, not skills. Introducing the TEER system will focus on the education and experience required to work in any given occupation. Second, Statistics Canada argues that the previous NOC categorization system artificially creates a low-skilled versus high-skilled categorization. This redesign moves away from the high/low categorization to more accurately reflect the skills required in each occupation.

What does this mean for Potential Immigrants and Workers?

Once NOC 2021 is implemented by IRCC and ESDC, immigration and foreign worker applicants must ensure their NOC corresponds with the eligibility criteria of the program they are applying to. IRCC and ESDC have yet to determine how to classify jobs that are currently defined as skill level “B”. According to Statistics Canada, this group grew disproportionately large over time, as it includes occupations that require varying degrees of education and experience. IRCC will need to determine which TEER categories will be eligible for Express Entry-managed programs as well as other federal and provincial programs that currently require a “high skilled” NOC.
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%

The new TEER system has 516 occupations, up from 500 in NOC 2016. New occupations were created to reflect emerging fields such as data science, artificial intelligence and cyber-security.

You can view how your current NOC compares to the NOC 2021 by using the following Statistics Canada tool.

Tags: Immigration, Immigration to Canada, Work Permit, Working In Canada

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