Hanish Trivedi, 2024

International Workforce

Recruiting Foreign Workers into BC’s Aviation and Aerospace Industry

Working Draft By BCIT Student Graduation Project – Do Not Cite

In our ongoing project, we have been researching the recruitment of foreign workers to address the labour shortage in British Columbia’s aviation and aerospace industry. We have made significant progress in our research, and we would like to share some of our findings and considerations.

Our Research Sources

Our research has been informed by valuable data extracted from two primary sources:

Parliamentary Committee Testimonies – The testimonies presented to the Parliamentary Committee on labour shortages in the Canadian aviation sector have been closely studied. These testimonies have provided us with insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with the international workforce.

WorkBC’s Labour Market Outlook Report 2023 – BC Jobs and Labour Market Outlook 2023: This report has been instrumental in shaping our research. It provides an overview of the current employment and future job opening figures for specific roles in the aviation and aerospace industry.

Key Findings and Considerations

From the Parliamentary Committee testimonies, we have learned that there is an urgency to address workforce shortages in the aviation sector. The testimonies highlight the potential benefits of international recruitment and suggest several steps to streamline the hiring process for foreign aircraft maintenance engineers and pilots.

One such step is the addition of two National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes to the list of critical labour shortages. This would make the process less costly and faster for a critical part of the industry. The NOC codes in question are 72404, which is for aircraft mechanics and inspectors and NOC code 72600, which covers airline pilots, flight engineers, and flight instructors.

Another point raised in the testimonies is the recognition of foreign-trained AMEs by Transport Canada. Currently, Transport Canada refuses 99% of requests from AMEs licensed in other jurisdictions like EASA or FAA. Moving to a competency-based system could be a significant improvement.

Leveraging programs such as the International Mobility Program to facilitate the hiring of foreign nationals in occupations critical to the aviation industry.

The WorkBC’s labour market outlook report reveals specific skill shortages in the region, emphasizing the importance of strategic measures to fill these gaps. According to the report, air transportation and supporting activities currently employ 19,900 employees. The job opening numbers for the next 10 years from 2023 to 2033 forecast the need for 8,600 new employees.

Our research continues, and we are committed to gathering more information about and possible options to recruit foreign workers to address the labour shortage in British Columbia’s aviation and aerospace industry.

The below table shows the current employment and future job opening figures for specific roles in the aviation and aerospace industry:



The Government’s Response to Recommendations on Foreign Workers Recruitment

On September 18, 2023, a report was presented to the House outlining several recommendations concerning the recruitment of foreign workers. Here, we delve into the Government of Canada’s responses to some of these recommendations.

Streamlining Visa and Work Permit Processing

One of the key recommendations put forth was the need for the Government of Canada to expedite visa and work permit processing for foreign workers. Additionally, the recommendation called for an examination of avenues to streamline credential recognition among federal departments.

In response, the Government acknowledged this recommendation and noted that some elements are currently being addressed through existing programs. The Government continues to expedite visa and work permit processing, demonstrating its commitment to this issue.

Encouraging Foreign Students to Train in Canada

The Government is also taking proactive measures to use immigration programs that encourage foreign students to come to Canada for pilot training and remain in Canada as flight instructors. For instance, Foreign License Validation Certificates can be used by foreign established pilots with a flight crew license issued by an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Contracting State. This allows them to work for up to a year with a Canadian airline company.

Moreover, foreign students can follow a path to permanent residency or citizenship by completing their initial training with Canadian flight schools under the Canadian Aviation Regulations. They would then serve as flight instructors before moving on to work as a pilot with a Canadian airline.


In conclusion, while significant progress has been made in our efforts to address labor shortages in British Columbia’s aviation industry, there is still much work to be done. By continuing to collaborate with industry stakeholders, we remain committed to continue our research and gather more information that would help in implementing strategic measures and ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the sector. Together, we can overcome the challenges posed by labor shortages and foster a thriving aviation industry in British Columbia.

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