Signs of the Times: Expert insights about employment in 2030

A look at how a range of experts across Canada are thinking about the future of employment, as well as which trends they believe are most likely to create change
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Signs of the Times: Expert insights about employment in 2030
Diana Rivera
Economist
Jessica Thornton
Collaborator
August 19, 2019
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About this Report

Canada’s labour market is undergoing changes, but what does the future hold? With a range of technological, environmental, and political trends driving change, which ones should Canadians pay attention to most? Signs of the Times: Expert insights about employment in 2030 offers a look at how a range of experts across Canada are thinking about the future of employment, ideas about possible new jobs, as well as which trends they believe are most likely to create change. This report aims to provide guidance to Canadian policy makers, educators, employers, students, and workers about what the future of Canada’s labour market may hold. 

Signs of the Times is the second report to be released as part of the Brookfield Institute’s Employment in 2030 initiative. Building on previous work conducted by project partner Nesta, Employment in 2030 uses futures research, expert workshops, and machine learning algorithms to project the skills most likely to be in demand in 2030 across Canada. The first phase of this initiative resulted in Turn and Face the Strange, a report that outlines 31 broad trends with the potential to impact Canada’s labour market. This research was used to frame the next phase of the project: six workshops held across Canada, inviting a range of diverse experts to share how they expect select occupations might change in the next 10–15 years. The insights we gathered from the experts are shared in this report, while data from these workshops will inform the last phase of the project: data analysis using machine learning algorithms to project these impacts across the labour market, shedding light on the skills most likely to be in demand. The findings from this final phase will be shared in a third report, which is set for release in 2020.  

Read this report to help you:
  • Understand the range of trends that have potential to impact the future of employment in Canada
  • Consider how a diverse group of experts across Canada are thinking about the future of employment
  • Gain insight into the workshop methodology and how the data gathered will be used for a machine learning algorithm to project which skills will be in demand in the future
  • Imagine the ways in which jobs will change in the next 10–15 years and the new ones that will emerge

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Key findings from the report:

  • It was critical to work with our local convening partners in Alberta, Ontario, Yukon, British Columbia, Quebec, and Newfoundland Labrador to identify experts with broad labour market knowledge who could inform our data set. 
  • While technological trends were identified by most experts as having high potential to create change, most stressed that adoption of these new technologies would be slow and uneven across Canada. 
  • Experts anticipate that environmental sustainability trends, such as Resource Scarcity, will grow in importance, likely creating more unexpected change for Canada’s labour market. 
  • Demographic trends, such as an aging population, will continue to drive change for health-related professions. Several experts also stressed that this trend would prompt an economic need for immigration.
  • The importance of the reconciliation process and safeguarding Indigenous rights was an important, recurring topic throughout the workshops. For example, several experts believe that judicial practices related to land and sovereignty issues would change in the future, with the potential to impact legal occupations.
  • While not the primary focus of the workshops, experts were asked to dream up a range of possible new jobs. Some of their imaginative examples include Cannabis Sommeliers, AI Ethicists, VR Educators, Dark Web Detectives, Digital Identity Protectors, and VR Doctors. 

Funders

This project is generously supported by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiative Program and the Max Bell Foundation.

Partners

Our work would not be possible without the continued support of a range of partners, including Nesta, SFU Public Square, Canada West Foundation, Yukon College, Percolab, and the Newfoundland Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre.

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Oct 28, 2019

Opinion: The future of work is changing, but no-one can predict how. This op-ed was originally published on Apolitical.
Can an algorithm map the future of work?
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