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Evidence of meeting #29 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was engineering.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Tracey Leesti  Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada
Marc Lachance  Assistant Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada
Josée Bégin  Director, Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada
Michael McCracken  Chair and Chief Operating Officer, Informetrica Limited
Marie Carter  Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada
Alana Lavoie  Manager, Government Relations, Engineers Canada

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

Your time is up.

Mr. McColeman.

March 14th, 2012 / 5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Thank you for coming today.

I want to go down the road of education and the linkages to education in terms of attracting people into the engineering field to begin with. I'd like you to give us examples, if you could, of some of the things you've done. You mentioned you're in close contact with deans.

What have you done with the schools of engineering that's innovative or that may be on the cutting edge of making sure that graduates who are coming out can perhaps bridge that 5- to 10-year gap? It may be some added curriculum or work experience that they might have gotten in the field. The parallel might not be apprenticeship but maybe internship programs. Is there anything in the Canadian post-secondary realm that you can cite as working towards this gap?

5:10 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

Yes, and I'm happy I can answer that one with a firm yes.

We accredit all of the undergraduate engineering degree programs in Canada. One of the things that most of the universities are moving towards are co-op programs. In these, universities actively work with industry to place their students for four-month, eight-month, or full-year terms.

So rather than graduating in four years, you're graduating in five or six, but you've gained a year to two years of work experience within that time. We're finding that a large number of the graduates will be hired by the companies with which they did their co-op portion. That works very well.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

So it's a co-op in the traditional sense that while you're studying you're getting a work placement, which could lead to a job.

From an immigration point of view...I met a young engineer this summer in Ireland. He was a caddy at a golf course. Of course, with the way the Irish economy is, caddy was the best job he could get.

Do you have a success story about an immigrant engineer coming to this country that you could tell this committee?

5:10 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

We actually have success stories on our website, which are available to have a look at.

Just before Christmas, I was at a Professional Engineers Ontario function, and a fellow came up to me and gave me his card. He said, “I came here as an immigrant. I got through the licensing program with no problem”—he was a structural engineer—“and I now own my own business. I'm hiring immigrant engineers, and if you need to show somebody a success story, I'm it.”

The first time Hatch called me I suggested they try Ireland, because we have a mutual recognition agreement with Engineers Ireland, so somebody registered with Engineers Ireland gets recognized fairly easily in Canada. When he phoned me yesterday, he said he had managed to mine all of the engineers that he could out of Ireland, and now he needed to go somewhere else for that.

There are a lot of success stories out there.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Are the engineering schools and the post-secondary engineering faculties full?

5:10 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

They're at capacity? So is one of the solutions perhaps to build more capacity within post-secondary programs?

5:10 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

Absolutely.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

My last question is—and I'll try to make it quick because I'm running out of time—what are you doing at the high school level or even the elementary level to attract young people into the engineering field?

5:10 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

We're actually doing a few things with that. We're focusing on K to 12 outreach a little bit. Our constituent associations, our members, are getting out into the schools. We support national engineering month. National engineering month is really focused on getting out into the grade schools and the high schools and promoting engineering. All of our associations corral their members, so the professional engineers in the country run programs and competitions at the grade school and high school level.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you to Mr. Coleman.

Mr. Andrews, go ahead.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Thank you very much. Welcome folks.

Ms. Carter, you have regional representation in each province as part of your association, am I not correct? I think you recently just had some meetings in Newfoundland, maybe last year, or was it six months ago?

5:10 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

Sorry, I missed what you said.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Didn't you just recently have meetings in Newfoundland with your association there last spring?

5:10 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

Oh, last spring, yes....

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

I had an opportunity to meet with some of the engineers that were down at that particular time.

Getting back to your question, you were talking about the different regions of the country. Are you really noticing a need for engineers in the different regions? I know you mentioned Newfoundland. Is there one region over another where the demand is greater?

5:15 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

There are bigger demands right now in Saskatchewan and in Alberta, where we have a bit of a more robust economy going. I know that our Newfoundland association has said they're licensing more members than they've ever had coming in there, and that the companies in Newfoundland are looking for more engineers, trying to get them back from Alberta, because a few years ago everybody was fleeing to Alberta.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Do you notice the mobility of your engineers from one part of the country to the other? Do you see a lot of that?

5:15 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

Since 1999 we've had an inter-association mobility agreement, whereby engineers would be licensed if they were in good standing in another organization fairly quickly. We've managed over the years, and in anticipation of the agreement on internal trade ramping up a bit, to get that down to 48 to 72 hours, where a member in good standing in one province can get licensed in another province and hit the ground running for work.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Good.

I had this as my fourth question, but I'll ask it since you've brought it up. You just mentioned Ireland, and you have some agreements with them. Are there any other countries that you're dealing with where you have these inter-mobility agreements?

5:15 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

Yes. We're part of the Washington accord, which is an agreement that recognizes the education level. We also have full mobility agreements with Hong Kong, Australia, Ireland, and France, which is a bit of a hybrid agreement: we recognize their education and they recognize our licence, simply because they don't have an actual licensing process there. In France, they graduate and are automatically able to practise independently.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Have you noticed a shortage of engineers for government—municipal and provincial levels of government? I once was a municipal councillor and know the trouble of trying to attract and retain engineers for a municipal government. Is that still an issue?

5:15 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada

Marie Carter

I can't answer that definitively. I can answer it anecdotally only, and that is that we still hear from municipalities and provincial governments that they are the training grounds for the consultants and that they continue to lose engineers to the consulting firms.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Is part of that training ground the salary gap maybe? Have you noticed the salary gap over the past little while?