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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

A new way of measuring occupations

NOC 2021 and TEER categories

by Michael Scott

Many have become familiar with the system of categorizing occupations with a four-digit code or NOC. The system distinguishes between skilled occupations spread out in the current National Occupation Classification (NOC) book (1216) as O, A, and B as opposed to the semi-skilled or low skilled C and D categories. If you are comfortable with this system, be warned that it is set to be overhauled by next year and replaced by major users, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Before shaking your head in disbelief, accept the inevitable change that is coming. Forewarned is forearmed. You need to understand what is coming.

It is important for potential users to be aware of the scope of the NOC and the changes coming under version NOC 2021. Beginning in the fall of 2022, IRCC will be assessing potential economic class and temporary foreign workers applications under the new NOC. ESDC, who have also been using the NOC 2016 to evaluate Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications, will also be making decisions based on the new NOC by fall. The two departments are coordinating the change over to the new NOC to ensure consistency across work permit applications and seamlessness among users, both employers and worker clients.

Canada’s system for categorizing occupations is called the National Occupation Classification (NOC). The NOC is reviewed every five years to ensure that it reflects Canada’s changing labour market and gets overhauled about every 10 years, with the last major upgrade in 2011. Statistics Canada warned of the change in a recent publication. The NOC is a collaborative effort between Statistics Canada (STC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the release of NO 2021 will be the product of ongoing discussions between the two federal departments and has a major impact on economic and skilled worker applications.

The current NOC structure (2016), is categorized by two major features of jobs: the “Broad Occupational Category” and the “Skill Level.” The first is defined by the type of work performed with respect to educational requirements and field of study for entry into a particular occupation. The “Skill Level” categorizes the type of education and training required to enter and perform the duties of the occupation but also considers the experience, complexity, and responsibilities of the occupation. For instance, under the current Express Entry selection process, applicants must demonstrate that they have work experience in the NOC that falls under one of the following high skill codes:

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

The new way of categorizing occupations moves beyond NOC 2016 reliance on skill types to one which will categorize jobs based on a new Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) system. In place of the current 0, A, B, C and D skill types, TEER has categories 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5:

TEER 0: Management occupations; TEER 1: Completion of university education and several years of experience in TEER 2 jobs; TEER 2: Completion of a post-secondary program of two to three years; or an apprenticeship of two to five years; or supervisory work experience, or several years in TEER 3 when applicable; TEER 3: Completion of post-secondary program of less than two years; or an apprenticeship of less than two years; or more than six months of on the job training, or a combination of training course and work experience with some post-secondary education; or several years work experience in TEER 4 occupations; TEER 4: Completion of secondary school; or several weeks of on-the-job training with some secondary school; or work experience with some secondary school; or several years of experience in TEER 5 work; TEER 5: Short work experience and no formal educational requirements.

The reasons given for the change is first because the federal departments feel that defining occupations on “skill levels” is confusing. NOC focuses on the occupations and not the skills. TEER is intended to address the confusion by focusing on the education and skill necessary to perform the work.

Statistics Canada argues that the NOC categories develops a system of distinguishing between low versus high skill categorization. The TEER system moves away from high versus low distinction by focusing on the skills required for each occupation.

An examination of the two systems in Canada Immigration News showed that Skill Level B under the current system is the highest in terms of grouping categories for assessment. The Distribution of Unit groups under NOC 2016 showed: Skill Level A at 28 per cent, Skill Level B at 42 per cent; Skill Level C at 24 per cent; and Skill Level D at six per cent. This compared with the Distribution of Unit group under TEER: Category 0: nine per cent; Category 1 at 19 per cent; Category 2 at 31 per cent; Category 3 at 13 per cent; Category 4 at 18 per cent; and Category 6 at nine per cent.

The new TEER system has 516 occupations compared with 500 in NOC 2016. The new occupations reflect occupations created to match emerging fields in data science, cyber security, and others.

The jury is out on the changes but at least we have some preliminary information to work with. The actual release of NOC 2021 with the TEER categorization will take place in 2022, so the readers and potential users will have some lead time to adjust their plans. I remember supervisors in times past who advised us all to embrace change, it may work out for the best. At least this is something we can hope and pray for.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail:

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