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/ Listing Tags / workforce; Canada; skills; future; work; labour market;

Learning Nation: Equipping Canada’s Workforce with Skills For the Future

Global labour markets are undergoing massive change, driven in large part by advances in technology. Increasing automation and the rise of the so-called gig economy are displacing existing jobs while creating new jobs that demand different skills, and changing the trajectory of our working lives. The scope and scale of these shifts are unprecedented and will deeply affect the lives of working Canadians. We estimate that by 2030, automation and changes in existing occupations could threaten the jobs of more than 10 percent of Canadian workers unless they acquire new skills. Canada’s skills development infrastructure is simply not equipped to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Our system today rests primarily on two pillars. The first one supports the development of skills before people enter the workforce, through K-12 and post-secondary education. The second pillar supports individuals when they leave the workforce, by providing assistance to the unemployed and the retired. That leaves a large gap in institutional support and training during Canadians’ most productive years—and it is in this phase that workers will be most affected by the labour market turmoil. While our system has served us well in a relatively stable environment to date, it is not set up to address the coming labour-market disruptions. Canada urgently needs a third pillar that focuses on supporting working adults. The Council anticipates that managing the expected labour market changes will require an additional $15 billion of annual investments in adult skills development. The magnitude of the coming changes also necessitates the development of a Skills Plan for Working Canadians that will guide Canada’s approach to assisting working-age adults in capturing new occupational opportunities. We recommend that the government create the Canada Lifelong Learning Fund, which would support and provide incentives for both individuals and employers to significantly increase their investments in skills development. At the same time, we urge the federal and provincial governments to transform Canada’s network of employment centres so they provide hands-on guidance to Canadians as they navigate the labour market changes brought about by technological change. The federal and provincial governments have taken some initial steps toward building this third pillar through recent policy changes that bolster Canada’s skills development ecosystem. While these changes are undoubtedly a move in the right direction, the Council believes that much more substantial changes are required—and required soon. It is time to fundamentally rethink how we equip Canadians for the work dynamics of the future. Meeting this challenge will require a system-wide approach, and active collaboration between employers, citizens, educational institutions, and governments. In essence, we must develop mechanisms that support Canadians on continuous learning journeys throughout their lives.   View

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