A new report examines the impacts of the caregiving continuing professional development category, which has been available in the Yukon since 2021.   

In 2021, Engineers Yukon added caregiving to its continuing professional development (CPD) categories. Now, researchers Alison Anderson and Angel Henchey are taking a closer look at what this change means for engineers in the Yukon.  

“A key takeaway from this research is that most engineers provide some type of care, and this caregiving is taking a toll—the results suggest some are even taking a step back in their careers to meet their caregiving demands,” Anderson explained.  

The CPD program began in 2009, and it establishes the minimum professional development requirements for maintaining the competency and skills required of engineers. In the Yukon, professional engineers must obtain 240 CPD hours over three years in at least three separate categories.  

The inclusion of caregiving as a CPD is meant to reduce the burden associated with completing CPD requirements while juggling caregiving responsibilities. It also acknowledges the value of the skills acquired through caregiving—skills such as communication, patience, and conflict resolution.  

Caregiving often comes in the form of caring for children or for adult relatives that are dependent. Currently, engineers can claim up to 20 CPD hours per year for caregiving activities, at a rate of 1 CPD hour per 15 hours of caregiving.  

As social gender roles mean women are more likely to be tasked with caregiving responsibilities, this CPD also supports the engineering profession’s 30 by 30 initiative, to increase the percentage of newly licensed engineers who are women to 30 per cent by 2030, by providing them with additional support.  

“Bridging practice and academic research is crucial for advancing diversity and inclusion in the workforce. This is especially true within engineering, where women continue to face numerous barriers. I was happy to work alongside Engineers Yukon, who have revised their CPD program requirements to better support caregivers—an essential part of our society,” Henchey said.  

Anderson and Henchey conducted nine interviews to obtain engineers’ experience and perspectives on balancing caregiving and work responsibilities. A survey was then developed based on the objectives of the study and the themes that emerged from the interviews. The survey was sent out to all Engineers Yukon members, resulting in 139 eligible responses (a 12 per cent response rate).  

In particular, those who reported more than 20 hours of caregiving activity per week reported higher levels of stress, less satisfaction with work, and a lower ability to take on advancement opportunities. Despite this, although over half of the survey responses indicated caregiving responsibilities averaging roughly 26.6 hours of caregiving a week, only 13 per cent of respondents had submitted caregiving CPD hours.    

The reasons for the low uptake ranged from a lack of awareness of the caregiving CPD, or being unaware that they qualified for this CPD, to a fear of being stigmatized. The increased awareness post-survey suggested that there would be more uptake in the coming year as more people became aware of its availability.  

“Employers are looking for ways to better support and retain women engineers while regulators look to break down barriers to retention within their policies and frameworks. Our work suggests that supporting caregivers with flexible work and professional development arrangements may increase retention,” Anderson said.  

The report recommends increasing awareness of the caregiving CPD category, encouraging employers to better support caregiving through flexible policies, and reducing the stigma surrounding caregiving.