Employment in 2030

If you could see into the future, which types of skills and jobs would likely be in demand in the next 10–15 years? Learn about our project exploring employment in and around the year 2030.

Project Team

Sarah Doyle
Director of Policy + Research
Diana Rivera
Senior Economist
Yasmin Rajabi
Project Manager
Erin Warner
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Jessica Thomson
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Coralie D’Souza
Director of Strategic Communications, Events + Community Relations
Jessica Thornton
Collaborator
Michelle Park
Project Manager
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation
Tara O’Neil
Futures Researcher

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Why we’re doing this project

As labour markets evolve, the focus of education and training systems is increasingly on skills that are transferable across a range of occupations and industries, rather than credentials. Workers with in-demand and transferable skills can more easily find new work, “upskill,” or otherwise navigate changes in the labour market over the course of their careers. They are more resilient to what many perceive is an increasing rate of change due to technological innovation.

Governments, educators and employers are investing immense new resources into talent and skills development initiatives across the world, and Canada is no exception. For instance, Ontario’s recent “Career Kick-Start Strategy” announced a $190-million investment over three years in a range of market-focused education and skills development programs such as work-integrated learning, RBC’s Future Launch program has committed $500-million over ten years for youth skills and employment initiatives, and the 2017 Federal Budget included $75-million per year to “establish a new organization to support skills development and measurement.” Combined, these three new initiatives exceed a $180-million annual average in addition to tens of billions in existing expenditure. With such large investments, the labour market information (LMI) required to understand and target these efforts is more critical.

Currently, Canada lacks a holistic, detailed, and actionable forecast of in-demand skills, and the distribution of these skills across geographies, industries, and demographic groups. Governments, educators and Canadians, in general, are seeking a clearer picture of the skills that will help to future-proof workers in the face of complex forces ranging from automation and offshoring to digitalization. The proposed project will help to fill this gap, supporting the design of policies and programs aimed at fostering inclusive economic growth in Canada.

This timely project will feed into the work of the Future Skills Centre, a forward-thinking research centre with a focus on how best to prepare Canadians today for workforce opportunities of the future. Funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program, the Future Skills Centre is a partnership of Ryerson University, the Conference Board of Canada, and Blueprint, and consists of an investment of $225-million over four years and $75-million a year thereafter.

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Our Approach

Our proposed research project will help to fill critical gaps in Canada’s labour market information (LMI) by providing a detailed occupational and skills demand forecast that is responsive to changing labour market conditions across Canada. By harnessing the new data sources and applying a unique combination of futures research, expert forecasts and machine learning algorithms, we will map how the skills composition of labour market demand is likely to change on a 10 to 15-year horizon not only as a result of technological change like automation, but multiple drivers including globalization, climate change, and immigration. This project will be carried out in partnership with Nesta, an innovation foundation based in the United Kingdom (UK) that has previously piloted this research methodology in the UK and United States.

Over the next two years, this research will take place in a series of stages:

  • Futures Research: Beginning in the fall of 2018, we’re conducting futures research to map the trends and drivers of change impacting Canada’s labour market in the next 10 – 15 years, which will be released in early 2019.
  • Forecast Workshops + Survey: Our futures research will be the basis of workshops held in six Canadian locations throughout the spring of 2019. These workshops will engage experts to forecast changes to the demand of occupations in 2030.
  • Machine Learning Modelling: The input gathered in our cross-country workshops will form the training data required for the machine learning algorithms. This will allow us to project changes across the entire labour market, which we’ll make available in early 2020.
  • Data Visualization + Open Data: We are committed to making the data we collect publicly available, so that others can build off this work.
  • Research Reports: As usual, we also intend to document our process as we go, sharing key insights along the way in the form of a research reports, blogs and more.

Key Research Objectives

  • Provide a skills forecast to Canadian educators, policymakers, workers and firms with granular, actionable information on demand for skills and occupations in 10 to 15 years.
  • Outline the risks and opportunities faced by Canadian workers and firms across skill sets, geographies, ages, incomes, and other demographic characteristics.
  • Inform the future design of education, training, and economic development policies and programs, as well as modern social safety nets.

Project Phases

This section was updated on May 29, 2020: 

The Employment in 2030 project used a unique mixed method approach that leverages foresight research, survey responses and insights from 121 experts in cross-country workshops, and a machine learning model, to develop an occupations and skills forecast for Canada. 

We worked with Nesta to extend their approach, with adjustments based on lessons learned from its original application, and to account for the unique characteristics of Canada’s labour market.

The project consisted of three phases:

Phase 1: Trends research

  • Research on the trends impacting the Canadian labour market over the next decade, which involved horizon scanning, a strategic foresight method that helped to identify signals of change gathered from academic journals, popular media, and fringe sources. Surveying over 600 sources, the scanning process identified 31 meso trends with varying levels of maturity. This research took place in the fall of 2018, and is described in the first Employment in 2030 report, Turn and Face the Strange: Changes Impacting the Future of Employment in Canada. 

Phase 2: Workshops

  • Turn and Face the Strange provided context for the six workshops held across Canada, inviting a range of diverse labour market experts to share how they expect select occupations might change in the next 10–15 years. Collected through an occupation-specific survey, we used this data to inform the final forecast.
  • We designed the workshop guided by human-centred design principles, and encouraged collaboration between all participants through group discussion, gameplay, and critical thinking. Signs of the Times: Expert insights about employment in 2030 delves into how experts expect jobs might change in the future, how changes may vary by region, and which trends are likely responsible for driving these transitions. 

Phase 3: Forecast and accompanying report

  • We used the occupational projection data gathered at the workshops as well as the underlying skills, abilities, and knowledge important to each occupation to train a random forest machine learning model. This algorithm allowed us to extrapolate from expert data collected to project what they would have said about all occupations across the Canadian labour market. 
  • The forecast and accompanying report summarize the results of this project, highlighting the occupations that are projected to grow or decline by 2030. Importantly, Ahead by a Decade also explores the foundational and complementary skills essential for building a resilient workforce, as well as the distribution of occupational changes across Canadian geographies and demographic groups. Based on these insights, it suggests areas for action to help focus the country’s skills-development efforts and support the development of a more inclusive labour market.

Our Funders

This project is made possible in part thanks to funding from the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiative Program and the Max Bell Foundation.

Our Partners

This work will be carried out in partnership with Nesta, with the support of Element AI, in conjunction with local convening partners, including Canada West Foundation, SFU Public Square, the Newfoundland and Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC) at CNA, Percolab, and Yukon College.

Our Advisory Committee

To produce the best possible work, we have convened a steering committee to advise on the project. The committee will provide guidance on scope, execution, outputs, and outcomes. Members were recruited from across Canada, representing different perspectives, regions and stakeholder groups. Members include:

  • Steven Tobin, Labour Market Information Council (LMIC)
  • Janet Lane, Canada West Foundation
  • Janet Weber, SFU Public Square
  • Stephen Johnson, Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Colette Murphy, Atkinson Foundation
  • Denise Williams, First Nations Technology Council (FNTC)
  • Lauren Beille, Yukon College
  • Sharon McLennon, the Newfoundland and Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC) at CNA
  • Philippe Schneider, Researcher, Nesta
Sarah Doyle
Director of Policy + Research
Diana Rivera
Senior Economist
Yasmin Rajabi
Project Manager
Erin Warner
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Jessica Thomson
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Coralie D’Souza
Director of Strategic Communications, Events + Community Relations
Jessica Thornton
Collaborator
Michelle Park
Project Manager
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation
Tara O’Neil
Futures Researcher

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Deep Dive

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Jun 30, 2020

After 18-months of work, our Employment in 2030 project is nearing its finale. Find out what we have planned next and what may become of this research going forward.
Getting to 2030: A maintenance and sustainability strategy

May 29, 2020

We created a growth and skills forecast that outlines some of the potential areas of growth and risk for workers and employers in 2030. What comes next?
We Have A Forecast! Now what?

May 29, 2020

As Canada and the world grapple with how to recover from the current COVID-19 crisis, thinking about the long-term will be more important than ever. We hope this forecast may be a useful contribution.
A Note re: Forecasts in times of extreme uncertainty

May 29, 2020

How can we prepare Canadians for the future of work? Our new occupations and skills forecast explores how Canada’s labour market may evolve in the next decade.
Ahead by a Decade: Employment in 2030
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