A Waste of Talent?: The Underemployment Crisis Among Ontario's Engineers

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The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) reports that a significant number of individuals in Ontario with engineering degrees work in jobs that don't necessarily require a university degree. OSPE deems this condition as "underemployment" as it demonstrates a vast underutilization of people who obtained a rigorous university degree at great cost to the individual, as well as society, only to end up working in jobs that likely wastes their education, skills and talent.

Ontario Society of Professional Engineers

Founded by engineers in 2000, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers is the voice of the engineering profession across the province.

"Only about 30 per cent of employed individuals in Ontario who held a bachelor's degree or higher in engineering were working as engineers or engineering managers."

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) is pleased to release its latest report, Crisis in Ontario's Engineering Labour Market: Underemployment Among Ontario's Engineering-Degree Holders.

The report identifies that a significant number of individuals in Ontario with engineering degrees work in jobs that don't necessarily require a university degree. OSPE deems this condition as "underemployment" as it demonstrates a vast underutilization of people who obtained a rigorous university degree at great cost to the individual, as well as society, only to end up working in jobs that likely wastes their education, skills and talent.

"The underemployment crisis is an important policy area when one considers the negative impact for Ontario's highly skilled engineers, industries, and the economy," stated OSPE CEO, Sandro Perruzza.

The report drew on statistics from the Canadian National Census 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). Among its many findings, the report identified that:

  • only about 30 per cent of employed individuals in Ontario who held a bachelor's degree or higher in engineering were working as engineers or engineering managers
  • over 33 per cent of engineering-degree holders work in jobs that didn't necessarily require a university degree;
  • by a wide margin, employed individuals with bachelor's degrees or higher in engineering did not work in their field of study compared with those with medical, law, nursing or education degrees;
  • just 29.7 per cent of individuals with engineering degrees work as engineers or engineering managers in Ontario, compared to almost 46 per cent in Alberta; and
  • just over 20 per cent of women and internationally trained engineers (ITEs) with engineering degrees actually work as engineers or engineering managers.

OSPE considers this situation unacceptable and an indicator of significant underemployment of those who hold valuable engineering degrees. The report raises many questions, including what can be done to reduce the level of underemployment.

"No other engineering organization in Canada has conducted such a comprehensive study on the labour market for engineers. Universities, employers, industry leaders, policy makers and government all have a role to play when it comes to improving the labour market outcomes for the province's engineers," Perruzza said. "OSPE looks forward to working with these stakeholders and our members to find solutions to alleviate the underemployment situation among engineers."

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Lee Weissling
@O_S_P_E
since: 06/2009
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