Advancing IEPs in the Bio-economy - Facts

Source: Paving the Way: Facilitating Career Paths for Newcomers in the Canadian Bio-economy


IEPs arrive with the knowledge and skills most needed in Canada’s bio-economy

  • The top two fields of work experience among IEPs prior to immigrating to Canada are bio-health and biotechnology research and development (R&D) services.
  • The most common skills IEPs possess are research and development (57.7%) and quality control/assurance (24.0%), which rank among the most prominent skills deficits in Canada’s bio-economy as published in BioTalent Canada’s 2013 labour report: Sequencing the Data.

Real and perceived obstacles hinder IEPs’ path to enter Canada’s biotechnology sector

  • Almost seventy percent (69.2%) of IEPs surveyed do not currently work in the bio-economy, and only 27.2% of IEPs feel their current job utilizes their technical job-skills.
  • The top challenges facing IEPs entering Canada’s biotech workforce include finding jobs in their own field (51.9%) and lack of Canadian experience (46.5%).

ISAs serve as a crucial bridge to employment, but are underutilized by IEPs

  • Among the ISAs surveyed, job search services (90.9%) and employment preparation assistance (81.8%) are the employment services most often provided by ISAs to IEPs.
  • Only 40.5% of IEPs surveyed indicated working with an ISA. Of the IEPs working with ISAs, 42.7% consider employment services the most important service provided by the ISAs.

IEPs need new ways to demonstrate their readiness to work in the bio-economy

  • Two-thirds (66.7%) of the ISAs surveyed identified foreign credential recognition as a ‘major’ issue for immigrants entering Canada’s bio-economy.
  • The majority (90.9%) of ISAs surveyed agreed education and experience validation would help IEPs obtain employment in Canada’s bio-economy.

Pre-screening could be a path for skilled IEPs to connect to employers

  • Over half of the IEPs surveyed (56.8%) indicated having worked in biotechnology prior to immigrating to Canada.
  • All the biotechnology employers surveyed supported the concept of having access to pre-screened candidates.


The data presented in this report reveals a gap between skilled IEPs seeking bio-economy work and employers in the sector with defined and pressing hiring needs. BioTalent Canada proposes three practical recommendations to close that gap and boost Canada’s utilization of IEPs’ biotechnology skills.

IEPs must be recognized as skilled and experienced talent

There is a great need to create awareness and alter perceptions among bio-economy employers about the skills IEPs possess. In the past, solutions like federal wage subsidy incentives have been effective methods in enhancing employment from underutilized talent pools.

The bio-economy needs access to a standardized candidate pre-screening methodology

Most of the ISAs surveyed agree that education and experience validation would help IEPs find employment, and all the employers surveyed supported having access to pre-screened candidates.

ISAs should function as a referral channel for any standardized industry pre-screening methodology

ISAs already have the mechanisms in place to assist IEPs with their job search. ISAs would be the ideal marketing and referral channel for a standardized pre-screening methodology for IEPs.