Ahead by a Decade: Canadian employment in 2030

The Brookfield Institute launches the new Forecast of Canadian Occupational Growth
May 29, 2020
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As Canada and the world grapple with how to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, the need to design policies that will effectively support workers and businesses into the future is more pressing than ever. Today the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) at Ryerson University launches its new Forecast of Canadian Occupational Growth (FCOG), which uses a unique combination of strategic foresight, expert insight, and machine learning to project how Canada’s labour market may change by 2030.

While the research driving this forecast was conducted before the crisis, it remains a valuable tool for planning long-term.

The forecast projects that 19% of all Canadian workers are in occupations that will grow between now and 2030—notably ones that are highly technical, service oriented, or related to healthcare. The accompanying report, Ahead by a Decade: Employment in 2030, explores the uneven implications of the forecast for different industries, geographies, and demographic groups, highlighting who may be most vulnerable. It also reveals the specific skills that will likely be foundational to the future job market, helping workers to navigate potential disruptions over the next 10 years, ranging from technological change to resource scarcity and an aging population.

 “The Brookfield Institute’s forecast offers a new approach for thinking about how Canada’s employment landscape could change in the next 10 years. It complements existing resources, such as the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), by considering the potential for a wide range of trends to shape the future of work in ways that could depart from the past,” says Sarah Doyle, Director of Policy + Research at the Brookfield Institute. “Tools like this one can help us plan effectively for the future, and help us lay the foundations for a more inclusive economy. This may be even more valuable now, as Canada seeks to help workers and businesses navigate and recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”

“We want to help Canadians equip themselves with the skills needed to find secure jobs now and in the future” says the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. “By bringing attention to the skills and abilities that could help people adjust to disruption, the Brookfield Institute’s new forecast will be invaluable to supporting worker and employer resilience.”

Key Report Findings
  • 19% of Canadian workers are in occupations projected to grow; 15% are in occupations projected to decline; and 66% are in occupations projected to remain stable in employment share. 
  • Jobs in health and science, as well as those requiring a high degree of service orientation or technical expertise are projected to increase in employment share by 2030. Some of the jobs most projected to grow are: Graphic designers and illustrators; chefs; specialist physicians; registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses; and technical sales specialists in wholesale trade.
  • On the other hand, occupations in manufacturing and utilities are generally projected to decrease in employment share in the next decade. Some of the jobs most projected to decline are: Motor vehicle assemblers, inspectors, and testers; shippers and receivers; managers in agriculture; fishermen/women and plastics processing machine operators.
  • There are five foundational skills and abilities that are likely to be important across Canada’s labour market in 2030: instruction, persuasion, service orientation, brainstorming, and memorization.
  • Men are projected to experience both job risk and greater opportunity. They are more likely to be in both declining and growing occupations. 
  • Women may experience fewer risks to their occupations in the future, but also less opportunities. While fewer women are working in jobs projected to decline, those who are in these jobs may be more vulnerable to change because they are paid significantly less than their male counterparts ($33,552 versus $42,883).
  • Workers with higher education, as well as those with higher incomes, are significantly more likely to be in occupations projected to grow.
  • First-generation immigrants are more likely to work in jobs projected to grow, compared to the workforce average. While visible minority workers are on average also more likely to hold jobs in occupations projected to grow, certain groups may face more risk.

Partners and Sponsors
Ahead by a Decade is the culmination of BII+E’s Employment in 2030 initiative and follows the first two reports in the series: Turn and Face the Strange and Signs of the Times. This work is made possible in part thanks to over $1 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiative Program and the Max Bell Foundation.

The project is 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 the United States, in collaboration with Pearson and the Oxford Martin School. Ahead by a Decade is also supported by Element AI and regional convening partners, including the Canada West Foundation in Alberta, SFU Public Square in British Columbia, the Newfoundland and Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC) at CNA, Percolab in Quebec, and Yukon College.

“We’re excited to see the methodology take on new dimensions in a Canadian context,” says Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta. “Our partnership with the Brookfield Institute is a valuable opportunity to collaborate internationally on our understanding of the future of work and to learn more about how global trends could play out in different economies.”

Over the course of 18 months, the Employment in 2030 project used a novel mixed-method approach that leveraged foresight research, survey responses and insights from over 120 experts in cross-country workshops, and a machine learning algorithm. This work came together to create an occupational growth forecast for Canada looking 10 years into the future, driven by expert data and worker skill, ability, and knowledge requirements.

Web App and Open Data
Users can also interact with the data via a web app, which allows the forecast results to be filtered by occupations, skills, geography, and demographic characteristics. BII+E’s Forecast of Canadian Occupational Growth (FCOG), including the data and modelling code used to build it, is available for download through GitHub. Users are encouraged to explore the data, and to use it to investigate further questions, generate new research, and inform existing labour market information (LMI) tools. 

Related Research
Ahead by a Decade offers a picture of the future that is complementary to existing research and forecasts. It builds on BII+E’s related work in its skills work stream, including its recent report I, Human: The digital and soft skills driving Canada’s labour market, as well its Digital Literacy Series and the ongoing Job Pathways model. This work also relates to its research on automation, including its foundational study, The Talented Mr. Robot: The impact of automation on Canada’s workforce.


The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) is an independent and nonpartisan policy institute, housed within Ryerson University, that is dedicated to building a prosperous Canada where everyone has the opportunity to thrive due to an inclusive resilient economy. BII+E generates far-sighted insights and stimulates new thinking to advance actionable innovation policy in Canada. For more information, visit brookfieldinstitute.ca.

Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education. Urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 44,600 students, including 2,600 master’s and PhD students, 3,100 faculty and staff, and nearly 185,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit ryerson.ca.

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. It backs new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of its knowledge, networks, funding and skills. Working in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities, Nesta is a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk

For media enquiries, please contact Nina Rafeek Dow, Marketing + Communications Specialist at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.