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Understanding the move from Skill Level to the TEER system


Skilled workers can be eligible to come to Canada through programs like Express Entry. The primary eligibility criteria for this program include a person’s occupation and skill level. Recently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) changed the system it uses to assign candidates a category. 

Previously, the National Occupation Classification (NOC) used Skill Level to determine a person’s occupational group. Now, the NOC system uses a categorization system based on people’s degree of training, education, experience and responsibilities, called the TEER system. 

What has changed?

As part of the shift to the TEER system, occupational groups have expanded from five to six.

A notable change reflects the division of the previously-called Skill Level B into two categories: TEER 2 and TEER 3. The number of candidates in Skill Level B had grown incredibly large under the former system; now, it is split into two groups to more accurately distinguish the occupations and keep the distribution more balanced.

The IRCC also determined that using the term “Skill Level” to categorize workers was misleading. Further, it put too much focus on confusing skill-based metrics and did not accurately capture the differences in the types of occupations, which is the primary function of the NOC. 

Another significant change is that 16 new jobs are now available for Express Entry eligibility. This is important regarding candidates’ Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores. These scores affect placement in the Express Entry pool, which uses a score cut-off threshold to determine eligibility. 

How might this affect skilled workers?

Those seeking entry into Canada through programs like Express Entry will see changes because of the updated NOC 2021. Among these changes is an improvement in how the IRCC takes into account certain elements like:

  • Formal training
  • Educational requirements
  • On-the-job development of skills and knowledge
  • Complexity of responsibilities
  • Commonly accepted paths to occupational employment

Using these and other criteria, the NOC system puts candidates into groups based on the kind of work performed. Group placement can affect everything from coding to program eligibility.

This is a high-level overview of NOC 2021, and it is not uncommon for people to be overwhelmed or confused by major revisions like this. Talking to a lawyer can help individuals understand how – and, more importantly, if – the changes will affect them.