The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) is pleased to announce a new project forecasting employment and skills demand in and around the year 2030, with the aim of helping Canadians future-proof themselves in the face of potential job disruption and new opportunities. In a job market continuously shaped by technological change and other complex forces, understanding the skills needs of tomorrow’s workforce is important for Canadian educators, policymakers, workers and firms alike.

This research is made possible thanks to over $1-million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiative Program and the Max Bell Foundation.

“Increasingly, Canada requires a more holistic, detailed forecast of in-demand skills, and a distribution of these skills across geographies, industries and demographic groups in order to navigate the innovation-driven economy” says Sean Mullin, Executive Director of the Brookfield Institute. “We are excited to partner with Nesta, a global innovation foundation based in the UK, to apply their groundbreaking research on the future of skills within a Canadian context. We are grateful for the generous support of the Government of Canada and the Max Bell Foundation.”

“The world of work is changing and so are the skills Canadians need to succeed,” says the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. “The ability to forecast which skills will be in-demand ten years from now is such an advantage for Canada. This project aligns with our government’s plan to ensure Canadians get the skills they need to find and keep good, well-paying jobs now and into the future.”

Canada’s labour market is undergoing major shifts as a result of automation and broader technological change, demographic shifts, income inequality, globalization and other significant trends. Better data will help to target the country’s skills-development efforts, and support the development of a more inclusive, innovation-driven economy.

Key Research Objectives
  • Provide a skills forecast to Canadian educators, policymakers, workers and firms with granular, actionable information on demand for skills and occupations in 10 to 15 years.
  • Outline the risks and opportunities faced by Canadian workers and firms across skill sets, geographies, ages, incomes and other demographic characteristics.
  • Inform the design of education, training, and economic development policies and programs, as well as modern social safety nets.

Using a novel mixed method approach, this project will apply a combination of futures research, insights from experts, and machine learning algorithms to map how the job and skill composition of Canada’s labour market is likely to change on a 10–15-year horizon as a result of multiple drivers. BII+E is collaborating with Nesta, which piloted a similar study in the UK and United States in 2017.

“Our 2017 study with the Oxford Martin School and Pearson marked a break from previous studies that focused on only the employment effects of future automation,” says Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta. “We considered the wider set of global trends determining which skills future employers will need, finding that their impacts would play out differently in the US and UK economies. We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with our colleagues at the Brookfield Institute to explore how these trends will impact in Canada’s different geographies.”

This new research will build on BII+E’s highly-cited study on the impact of automation on the future of employment in Canada, titled The Talented Mr. Robot: The impact of automation on Canada’s workforce, as well its Digital Literacy Series. It will also 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.

Employment in 2030 will be carried out with the support of an advisory committee representing a diverse group of stakeholders and regions across Canada. Members include representatives from the Canada West Foundation (CWF), SFU Public Square, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC), the Atkinson Foundation, the First Nations Technology Council (FNTC), Yukon College, the Newfoundland and Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC) at CNA, and Nesta.

BII+E will also collaborate with a group of technical advisors on labour economics, strategic foresight and machine learning, as well as hold a series of workshops informed by futures research in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada. Participating experts will forecast changes in demand for specific occupations in the future – data that will then be applied to a machine learning model to develop a skills forecast. Throughout the process, insights will be shared through reports, open data, interactive infographics and blogs easily accessible via brookfieldinstitute.ca.