engineering job market overview in the post-COVID-19 landscape.

For 44 years, Randstad Engineering has kept a finger on the pulse of the engineering sector. We help engineers and technical professionals find permanent and contractual work that suits their needs, providing personalized career strategies for our growing network. By focusing on helping skilled engineers and technical professionals find work in the infrastructure, construction and manufacturing sectors, we've built a vast network and long-standing relationships and can help you secure your next job with a top Canadian employer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the job market in Canada dramatically. When the pandemic reached Canada in mid-March 2020, lockdowns and other protective measures were quickly put in place by provincial governments. The closures had a devastating effect on the Canadian job market. By June 2020, 3 million Canadians were out of work due to the pandemic and Canadian unemployment stood at a near-record 13%. The engineering sector was no exception to this staggering trend. Fortunately, in July 2020, we turned a corner in the first wave of the pandemic, and recovery began in many sectors, including manufacturing, construction and energy. 

engineering trends in manufacturing

trends in manufacturing

The manufacturing sector in Canada held up better than many others due to its essential nature. Manufacturing of essential goods such as food and medical supplies was strong through the pandemic as consumers stocked up on necessities. Talented engineers are needed to retool and support manufacturers as they navigate the pandemic and adapt their facilities to fit government regulations. Durable goods manufacturing was less fortunate. With many Canadians putting off big purchases due to the pandemic, the need for items like vehicles, appliances, and furniture, are on the downswing. 

Overall, 47% of Canadian manufacturers say it will take over a year to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels of business activity. 50% also claimed that Canada’s federal assistance programs are necessary to sustain their business during the pandemic. However, there is reason for hope, as the Canadian economy recovered 93,300 jobs in July 2020, regaining 78% of the jobs lost (119,000) in the second quarter. We expect to see this recovery continue throughout 2020 as businesses adapt to the new protective measures and find ways to resume business safely. If you’re looking for work in the manufacturing sector, now is an ideal time to dip your feet into the job market as new jobs flood into the market.

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trends in energy

The energy sector has remained one of the most stable in Canada throughout the pandemic, with approximately 13,500 engineering jobs lost between March and April 2020. In June 2020, 13,000 energy jobs were added back into the job market, almost completely reversing the effects of the COVID-19 downturn. Energy production and Canada’s oil and gas sectors have remained a critical driver for the Canadian economy, employing 950,000 Canadians either directly or indirectly and contributing to just under 14% of Canada’s GDP. 

The impact of COVID-19 has caused a small dip in oil production, with a 6.6% drop compared to 2019. Employers in Canada’s energy sector have started to diversify, investing in new initiatives, such as the RenuWell project, which aims to use clean renewable energy sources to serve rural communities in Alberta. Alberta, known for being Canada’s energy capital, has recognized the importance of diversifying their economy. This shift may be necessary to respond to technological changes. According to a report by EY, 1 in 3 oil and gas jobs could be fully automated in 20 years. 

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engineering trends in construction

trends in construction

Canada’s construction sector was the hardest hit sector under the engineering umbrella. Canadian construction dropped 41% from March to April. Over a quarter of a million construction jobs (251,500) were erased from the market at the height of the downturn. Since July 2020, over 156,600 jobs have been added back to the market. That leaves construction jobs still down quite significantly year over year, but there are some signs for hope on the horizon. 

The construction industry has adapted to the pandemic quite successfully, with many job sites across the country reopening with new proactive health and safety policies. The new measures have been successful in preventing and containing COVID-19 transmission. As a result of these successes, the sector is well-positioned should a second wave of COVID-19 hit Canada in fall 2020, as experts predict. It’s widely expected that the construction industry will be able to continue operating and not be included in province-wide lockdowns as was the case in the first wave. Construction has been deemed an essential service in many provinces, and construction projects that revolve around maintaining or building critical infrastructure (roads, bridges, hospitals, affordable homes, etc.) have been prioritized by local governments. We expect to see the construction sector continue to post strong recovery in the coming months as critical projects are greenlit and organizations continue to adapt to the pandemic circumstances.

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As a trusted partner in the world of talent, we combine our expertise and passion with some of the most innovative HR technologies to propel your engineering career forward. Are you re-entering the job market and looking for your next job opportunity in manufacturing, energy or construction?

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tim spindlove

director of engineering

Tim Spindlove is the Director of Engineering for the BC Region at Randstad Canada. His team helps clients and candidates with recruitment needs focusing on engineering and technical roles within manufacturing, energy and construction sectors. When he's not leading his team, you can find him playing with his two kids or on the golf course.