Upcoming Changes to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system

Changes to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system and impacts on the truck driver occupation

Melissa McGregor, Senior Program Advisor

Important changes are coming to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system that the government of Canada uses to classify jobs and determine eligibility for various programs and incentives. The old four-digit codes will be replaced by a five-digit system that represents the skills and experience associated with occupations in a new way. The five Skill Levels (0, A – D) that once determined the second digit of each NOC will be replaced by a six-tier Training, Experience, Education and Responsibilities indicator, known as a TEER category (TEER 0 -5).

While most occupations fall into TEER categories that are roughly equivalent to the Skill group they would have been in before, there are exceptions for occupations in the middle range of both systems, including long-haul truck driving. Formerly a Skill Level C occupation (the fourth of the five levels), transport truck drivers are now grouped into TEER 3 (out of six TEER levels), where they receive slightly more recognition, impacting the programs and initiatives they are eligible for. The most significant impact will be on express pathways to immigration.

Since NOCs help determine eligibility for immigration programs, the new codes have immediate implications for transport and logistics workers seeking entry to Canada. Under the previous system, long-haul truck drivers were not eligible for the Express Entry Program, meaning the most viable pathway to immigration for these workers was through provincial nomination programs. As of November 16, 2022, the program will begin using the new system. Transport truck drivers will be included in the General Trades major group, which is eligible for all streams of the Express Entry Program and included as a target group in the Federal Skilled Trades stream. This will potentially make it easier for employers to recruit experienced drivers from abroad, especially if they are able to provide a job offer and relocation assistance.

Why is the government changing the NOC system?

The NOC system undergoes periodic revisions to keep pace with the changing labour landscape. Jobs that have been essential to the Canadian economy at various points in time transform, merge, split, and occasionally give rise to new occupations, and the government’s classification system needs to reflect that. More importantly, though, the NOC update demonstrates a much-needed reassessment of the skills and experience associated with different jobs. The new TEER structure includes six categories, up from the five categories of the outgoing Skill Level scheme. As a result, new NOC classifications will offer more accurate and holistic representations of occupational skill level. Occupations that fell in the middle of the Skill Level scheme, such as long-haul trucking, will be most affected, since the newly added TEER categories are meant to address what was an overly broad range for Skill Levels B and C.

Comparison: NOC 2016 vs. NOC 2021

The updated NOC system was used for data collection in 2021 and will be more broadly implemented starting late 2022. Truck drivers will be represented by the code 73300, which signifies inclusion in the General Trades major group, the Transport Occupations sub-major group, and the Transport Truck and Transit Drivers minor group. The table below shows the main differences between the new NOC system the 2016 version it replaces.

VersionNOC CodeClassificationSkill / Experience Level
2021 (New)
Trades, transport, and equipment operators > TEER 3 > General trades > Transportation occupations > Transport truck and transit drivers
TEER 3: Occupations usually require a college diploma or apprenticeship training of less than 2 years; or more than 6 months of on-the-job training
2016 (Old)
Trades, transport, and equipment operators > Skill Level C > Transport and heavy equipment operation and related maintenance occupations > Motor vehicle and transit drivers
Skill Level C: Occupations usually require secondary school and/or occupation-specific training

You can learn more about the NOC update on the government of Canada’s website.

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