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Work experience is now more important than a job offer when it comes to getting an Invitation to Apply (ITA) from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through the Express Entry portal. That’s because IRCC changed the points it awards for a job offer in Canada in November 2016. Since that time, a job offer is now worth from 50 to a maximum of 200 points, rather than the pre-November 2016 amount of 600 points. In other words, the points for a job offer in Canada were been cut by two thirds.

That means that your work experience is now that much more valuable when your Express Entry profile is added up to see if you qualify from among the other candidates in your pool. How much more valuable? Consider the following statistics recently released by IRCC on how the changes made in November 2016 have affected immigration trends in Canada:

  • Federal Skilled Workers that received ITA’s increased from 25% to 48% of the total.
  • Applicants who had studied in Canada and received ITA’s increased from 30% to 40%.
  • Applicants who received an ITA without having a job offer increased from 62% to 90%.

ITAs by Job Offer before and After November 2016

These trends show the importance of continually updating your so-called human capital skills, at least the ones you have control of:

Remember that Provincial Nominees, however, still receive 600 points for a nomination under any Provincial Nominee program. So while a job offer is now less relevant, provincial nominations remain an excellent way to move to the front of the queue.

Further, seeing that nearly half of all Invitations to Apply are handed to applicants who classify as Federal Skilled Workers, it is vital to keep track of what jobs are in demand in Canada, and which jobs fall under the FSW class. To do this you will need to use Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. It’s straightforward to use.

  • Go to IRCC’s NOC Search page and type in your job’s 4-digit NOC code.
  • If you don’t know your job’s NOC code, start by typing in your job title or a very brief description of it in the Filter items field near the bottom of the page. It is in the last sub-section titled: Find your job title, code and skill type.
  • Pick the job listed in the NOC that best matches your job. This means that it should involve the same or nearly the same duties as your current job. Remember, it’s the job duties that must be as close as possible. Not the job title.
  • Write down and save the 4-digit NOC code in the left-hand column of the NOC job that best describes your current job.
  • Write down the NOC job title from the middle column and save it.
  • Write down the Skill Level from the right-hand column and save it. Please remember that a Federal Skilled Worker is someone with a job with the following Skill levels:
    • Skill level 0 (zero) for management jobs like a store or mine manager
    • Skill level A for professional jobs normally requiring a university degree like a doctor or an architect
    • Skill level B for skilled jobs or trades that normally require a college degree or an apprentice program like a chef or a plumber or an electrician

The next step is to continually follow any changes in the types of in-demand jobs in Canada according to their NOC classification. For example, according to IRCC, Express Entry’s top job categories for which the most ITAs where handed out, are the following jobs:

  1. NOC 21: Professional occupations in natural and applied sciences
  2. NOC 11: Professional occupations in business and finance
  3. NOC 01-05: Specialized middle management occupations
  4. NOC 12: Administrative and financial supervisors
  5. NOC 22: Technical occupations related to natural and applied sciences
  6. NOC 40: Professional occupations in education services
  7. NOC 62: Retail sales supervisors and specialized sales occupations
  8. NOC 31: Professional occupations in Health (This does NOT include Nursing)
  9. NOC 05: Middle management in retail and wholesale trade and customer services
  10. NOC 63: Service supervisors and specialized service occupations

A final note: The above list will change constantly with some NOC jobs rising up the ranks and others falling down the ranks. The current emphasis on applicants’ human-capital skills is a fair and forward-looking measure and should remain in place for some time. Of course a job offer from a Canadian employer in Canada is almost always a good thing. But upgrading your skill set with information that sites like the NOC system provide is one of the best investments you can make towards your future life in Canada.


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