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Turn and Face the Strange: Changes impacting the future of employment in Canada

What does the future hold for employment in Canada? Using strategic foresight research methods, this report explores a broad range of trends with the potential to impact Canada's labour market.
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Jessica Thornton
Senior Projects Designer
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation
Tara O’Neil
Futures Researcher

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About this Report

Turn and Face the Strange sets out to illuminate the diverse and intersecting trends driving change in Canada’s labour market. These trends have the potential to influence future skills demand in either positive or negative ways—and sometimes both. This report is not a prediction of the future or a deep analysis of any one trend, but instead reveals a complex picture. It aims to spark exploratory and imaginative thinking, and push readers to ask themselves “what if?” What if Canada sees a rise in wildfires, floods and mudslides? What if cases of mental health issues associated with technology use continue to multiply? What if AI becomes capable of performing creative tasks? This report explores 31 broad trends such as these, while imagining the possible implications for Canada and its labour market in the year 2030 and beyond.

The goal of this report is to challenge leaders from all sectors—including policymakers, educators and employers—to cast their net wide when considering multiple trends, from the weaker signals of change to those that are in the limelight. This also includes contemplating the potential for different trends to interact in ways that are not always so obvious.

This work builds on earlier research by our project partner, Nesta, which outlined seven mega trends impacting the future of work, including:

  • technological change
  • globalization
  • demographic change
  • environmental sustainability
  • urbanization
  • increasing inequality
  • political uncertainty

Turn and Face the Strange extends this framework of mega trends to explore the dynamics of 31 related trends, some of which are mature, while others are emerging or speculative. This report is the first of several that will be shared as part of Employment in 2030, along with open data, interactive infographics and blogs. It is meant to inform a conversation about the range of changes at play, and to provide a starting point for our expert workshops taking place across Canada throughout the spring. During the workshops, experts with a broad understanding of the Canadian labour market will be asked to forecast how demand for specific occupations is likely to change, based on their understanding of how various trends – including those highlighted in this report – might impact future skill demand. Learn more about the Employment in 2030 project in its entirety.

Read this report to help you:
  • Imagine and explore a broad range of trends with the potential to impact the future of employment in Canada.
  • Understand how these trends may interact with one another to impact Canada’s labour market.
  • Consider how various trends might evolve in the next 10–15 years.
  • Explore possible future scenarios for work in Canada.

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Key findings from the report:

  • While technological change will continue to impact the future of labour markets, it is important to consider broader trends related to demographic change, environmental sustainability, urbanization, inequality, political uncertainty and globalization.
  • Seemingly strange and disparate topics, such as brain enhancements, wildfires, and suburban growth, all have the potential to impact the future of employment in Canada. Even if these impacts are not always immediately obvious.
  • While ideas such as the decline of capitalism or rights for AI may seem eccentric or unlikely to occur at first glance, these weak signals still have the potential to shape the future of work, and should not be ignored.
  • To support future-focused planning and avoid blind spots, it is critical to understand the level of maturity of various trends, and how each might interact and evolve over time.
  • The future is uncertain. Imaginative and exploratory thinking can help leaders consider the broad range of potential challenges around the corner—and prepare for what is to come.

 

Funders

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

Jessica Thornton
Senior Projects Designer
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation
Tara O’Neil
Futures Researcher

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Apr 9, 2019

A new report looking at the complex trends potentially transforming Canada’s labour market in the next 10–15 years
Turn and Face the Strange: Changes impacting the future of employment in Canada

Apr 9, 2019

Since we’re not (yet) able to predict the future, find out how we used strategic foresight research methods to explore employment in Canada over the next 10–15 years.
Strange ideas about the future of employment
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