With a widening talent gap in engineering in Canada, there is a dire need for new people to enter the field. Experienced engineers are retiring, and there is a growing need for engineers across many industries. Jobs are going unfilled. This is a great opportunity for young people and students to start engineering careers. 

Contrary to popular belief, engineering careers are not dull and monotonous. This misinformation is contributing to a shortage of young engineers even though there are many innovative and fascinating projects you can get involved with that are helping to shape the future. There is a place for young Canadians in engineering. Now is the time to get involved in the engineering field. 

why is there a shortage of young engineers?

Canada needs more engineers. There are a few commonly cited reasons for the existing talent gap in the industry. The first is the lack of representation of women. A second is the barriers in place, making it challenging for internationally trained engineers to practice in Canada. However, there is an even more prominent reason for the talent shortage.

young and bold innovators place engineering
young and bold innovators place engineering

enrollment in engineering programs needs to increase

There needs to be more interest in engineer among young people in Canada. The numbers look good if you look at enrollment numbers for undergraduate students in engineering programs. There were 90,311 students enrolled in 2023, an 8 percent increase from 2016. But it's only when you look at enrollment in other programs that the lack of interest in engineering among students starts to appear. 

“The University of British Columbia’s 2020 undergraduate report shows the troubling statistic that arts faculty enrollment was twice the combined enrollment in engineering, pre-medicine and all other science-based professionals,” says Gwyn Morgan in a Troy Media article. 

“Science is a fascinating subject, but it needs teachers with the expertise and enthusiasm to bring it alive, motivating students to pursue careers as engineers, chemists, doctors and other in-demand professions. Lacking adequate science skills, students applying to university have few choices and often end up in low career potential liberal arts programs,” Morgan adds.

generating interest starts at the elementary and high school level

A C.D. Howe Institute report, The Knowledge Gap: Canada Faces a Shortage in Digital and STEM Skills, points to the lack of science skills students acquire in high school as a key reason for lower enrolment in engineering and STEM programs. 

The report recommends the following to help generate more interest among young students:

  • reforming the education system by offering more resources and better training options for teachers to implement modern curriculums
  • increasing STEM enrolment and graduation numbers by raising students’ performance in STEM subjects
  • closing the STEM gender gap by helping students make study and career choices 
  • encouraging under-represented groups to continue their education in STEM fields by addressing their particular needs
  • working with educational institutions to develop and expand artificial intelligence (AI) and data science courses and programs

canada is losing engineering talent to brain drain

Another issue related to young engineers is brain drain. Canada is losing many of our smartest young minds to the United States. 

The C.D. Howe report states: “The evidence suggests that Canada faces a continuing digital brain drain to the United States and needs to focus on policies that help retain persons with digital skills by creating opportunities comparable to those they might find elsewhere.”

The sheer volume of engineering graduates leaving for the United States is significant:

  • software engineering (66 percent)
  • computer engineering (30 percent)
  • computer science (30 percent) 

stand out in the engineering sector with these other tips

Check out our articles to gain new knowledge and skills that will help you stand out in this ever-changing field. 

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Engineering isn’t boring: there are plenty of very cool innovations coming in the engineering field

Engineering offers a vast array of exciting career opportunities. But young people need to know about them. Awareness is essential. There is a greater need to encourage young Canadians to get into engineering and ensure they understand their opportunities to build a thriving career. Here’s an example of some of the innovative projects Canadian engineers are working on:

project arrow

Have an interest in cars? Project Arrow is the newest innovation in the electric vehicle space. The vehicle is fully electric and equipped with an advanced self-driving system provided by Canada's automotive suppliers, more than 400 of whom have expressed interest in the project. It was revealed to the public at CES in January 2023. And they are on to the next phase of Canada's first zero emissions concept vehicle with APMA's Project Arrow 2.0.

The coolest part of this project is two engineering students in Ontario helped build Canada’s first electric car. They worked on every aspect of the project. 


The Hyperloop is the next evolution of high-speed transportation. The Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system concept for passengers and freight. Elon Musk described the concept in a 2013 white paper as a transportation system utilizing capsules supported by an air-bearing surface within a low-pressure tube.

Work is being done on the hyperloop by Toronto company TransPod. They are currently working on the first 5 to 7-kilometre section of a magnetic levitation train that will travel between Edmonton and Calgary. This could be completed by as early as 2027. 

Battery research 

Are you looking to have an electrifying future? Battery research is a focal point of the future of electric vehicles and devices, and Canadian scientists are in a race to make a breakthrough in electric battery technology. Engineering students can get involved in projects like this as they complete their university education. Young engineers can make a significant contribution even before they graduate. 

digital twin technology

Want to make a difference in the healthcare space? Digital twin technology is a virtual copy of a physical system that offers real-time data, predictive analytics, and simulation functionalities. Essentially, it's a digital representation that employs data-driven predictive technology to address issues proactively. By harnessing the capabilities of digital twins, hospitals can transform their operations, improve efficiency, make better decisions, reduce expenses, and ultimately enhance patient care.

Getting young people interested in Canadian engineering careers is a significant issue. There needs to be more exciting projects to work on. It's about finding ways to engage students within the education system to generate interest in STEM from a young age. 

It’s in our best interest to encourage young Canadians to get into engineering and understand that there are opportunities for them to build a thriving career in the field. There is a place for Canada’s young and bright minds in engineering.

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