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.