Although this report is being released in the first half of 2020, the vast majority of the work putting together the Forecast of Canadian Occupational Growth (FCOG) occurred in 2018 and 2019.
This is not unusual for large scale projects of this nature: there are almost always inevitable lags between finishing raw research and releasing a polished, understandable, externally reviewed version for public consumption. However, in this case, the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis and its enormously disruptive effect on the world present a particular challenge: Are the results of an occupational growth forecast created before the crisis still relevant?
We believe the answer is a strong “yes.” The findings of the report and, more generally, the FCOG provide a very helpful guide for thinking about long-term employment and skills trends in Canada between now and 2030.
The global pandemic and accompanying economic crisis will undoubtedly have an impact on these trends. Some trends may accelerate, new ones will emerge, others may slow down or stop. Future versions of this forecast will necessarily incorporate the impact of the crisis on long-term employment trends.
But, many of these trends are deeply rooted in economic, social, political, technological, and environmental changes that we believe will continue. And the time frame of the forecast— targeting 2030, not 2021—is designed to focus on the long-term.
Forecasts, at their best, are snapshots of the future from a particular point in time. They are almost never 100% right; no one ever predicts the future with certainty. Rather, the best forecasts are meant to be tools to help guide our thinking about the future—an exercise that is inherently clouded with uncertainty.
Similarly, the FCOG is not an attempt to paint a definitive picture of the future of Canadian employment. It is a complementary tool which, used alongside other sources of future-looking information, can guide the design of skills development policies and programs that are more likely to be resilient into the future.
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. The need to design policy and program supports that will be effective into the future is more urgent as we seek to support workers and businesses not only in weathering this crisis, but in emerging as strong or stronger than before.
We hope this forecast may be a useful contribution to this challenge.