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Closed Shops: Making Canada’s engineering profession more inclusive of international engineers

Building on our 2017 report on lawyers, the 2018 Closed Shops report examines the barriers international engineering graduates (IEGs) face in finding employment in the engineering profession in Canada. It finds that, as it is with many other professions, international engineering graduates have a harder time gaining employment than their Canadian-educated counterparts. This is due to various aspects of the immigration process, the engineering licensure process, and the professional employment process. For the full report, click here.


Katrina de Asis is a 32-year-old Filipino woman who immigrated to Canada alone in July 2017. Her resumé is indisputably impressive. She is an electronics engineer who worked for seven years in the Philippines office of a Fortune 500 company, and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of the Philippines, that country’s top-ranked university.

De Asis came to Canada because of the opportunities that exist for women here. “This is the only country with a minister for the status of women,” she says. “I’m certain there’s discrimination against women in all countries, [but at least here you have] a government that’s working to recognize women.”

It is not surprising that de Asis was drawn to a country where she sees gender equality being taken seriously. She hails from a profession characterized by extreme gender imbalance, and a country that remains socially conservative compared to Canada. “Back home, workplaces are more hierarchical, and as a woman, you have to break the ceiling and prove yourself even though you have the knowledge and capability … I knew in my previous company that that was not going to happen. I knew I wouldn’t have any [chance] of becoming a manager, so I left the company. And I knew I needed to leave the country.”

Today, de Asis is working as a certified technologist for an electronics manufacturer in Georgetown, Ontario. But she aspires to return to working as a licensed engineer. Yet, more than a year after immigrating, this goal still remains far off. De Asis describes the licensure path for international engineering graduates (IEGs) as “pretty tough,” because the process is long and rigidly serial.

Read the full report here or by clicking on the image below

About the author

Lauren Heuser is the author of Closed Shops: Opening Canada’s Legal Profession to Foreign-educated Lawyers, co-published in 2017 by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

Heuser is currently completing her Master in Business Administration at INSEAD in France. She was formerly a deputy editor and columnist for the National Post, and has written for The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, The Boston Globe, and the Ottawa Citizen. Prior to entering journalism, Heuser practised as a business law associate in the Toronto office of an international law firm. She holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in literature and political science from the University of Manitoba.