Polygon Created with Sketch. Home | Engage

The Future of Work in Canada – What we need to know about our ecosystem

Public, policymakers can now access the first set of Skills Next reports on key issues shaping the future of work and skills in Canada

Toronto, January 20, 2020 – Debates about the skills Canadians need to compete in the 21st Century run rampant, and so a series of reports that puts a spotlight on the key issues impacting the future of work and skills in Canada is being released to the public. Through Skills Next, a joint initiative between Future Skills Centre and Public Policy Forum, along with Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute in its role as a research lead for the Future Skills Centre, eight reports will be published over two weeks beginning January 20. 

The series draws from an expansive and highly diverse network of researchers and experts. Each report focuses on one issue to provide a comprehensive review on the topic, designed to illuminate the research landscape and current state of knowledge, providing a better understanding of what we know on each topic, and identifies areas in need of additional research. It is intended to help support further research and strengthen policymaking.

The Skills Next reports are made available for policymakers, researchers, and the wider public to spark further collaborations and inspire more independent research. The first set of eight reports will be published over two weeks beginning January 20 on the Future Skills Centre website at www.fsc-ccf.ca and the Public Policy Forum website at www.ppforum.ca.

Key takeaways from these Skills Next reports include:

  1. The mismatch between over-qualified workers and employers inability to find qualified candidates. Current data suggests one-third of Canadians hold a qualification higher than what’s required for their job, and 35 per cent of employers report difficulty finding skilled workers.
  2. How could skills training contribute to understanding key economic challenges? Canada, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at large, are trying to understand key challenges to economic growth and some nations are looking to skills training for an answer.
    • Labour productivity growth in the OECD has halved in the last 20 years, relative to the period before that.
    • Studies tend to focus on the jobs at risk of being lost to automation, with projections varying widely from six to 59 per cent. To get clearer answers, new approaches to research may be required.
  3. What’s Next? Canada needs more research and data — for which Skills Next lays the foundation — to understand what in Canada needs a fix: Is it a skills shortage, labour shortage, or skills mismatch? And how do we fix it in an inclusive and equitable way?

The first reports in the series are:

  • Thinking Twice About Technology and the Future of Work by Jim Stanford
  • Solving the Skills Puzzle: The Missing Piece is Good Information by Emna Braham and Steven Tobin
  • Bridging the Digital Skills Gap: Alternative Pathways by Denise Shortt, Brian Robson and Magdalena Sabat
  • Understanding the Future of Skills: Trends and Global Policy Responses by Sunil Johal and Michael Crawford Urban

Four more reports will be released the week of January 27 exploring topics like the graduate skills gap, the role of industry leadership in skills training, barriers to employment for people with disabilities, and barriers to employment for immigrants and racialized Canadians. Additional papers will be released in spring 2020.


We have an opportunity to make sure that the future of work is a good one for Canadians, and we believe that doing so successfully requires us to first gain a better understanding of what we already know about work and skills and, even more importantly, what we don’t.
Pedro Barata, Executive Director, Future Skills Centre
The Skills Next papers help build the enabling infrastructure that supports a foundation of high-quality research resulting in Canadian employees and employers being confident and preparing effectively for what the future of work will actually look like.
Dr. Julie Cafley, Executive Vice-President of the Public Policy Forum
Skills Next will provide a robust platform capable of enabling, encouraging and supporting ground-breaking research, both as part of the Future Skills Centre’s own research agenda, but also by the wider community of academic and community researchers, practitioners and policymakers working in this area.
Dr. Wendy Cukier, Director of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute

About the Future Skills Centre

The Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success. We believe Canadians should feel confident about the skills they have to succeed in a changing workforce. As a pan-Canadian community, we are collaborating to rigorously identify, test, measure, and share innovative approaches to assessing and developing the skills Canadians need to thrive in the days and years ahead.

About the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University

The Diversity Institute conducts and coordinates multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to address the needs of diverse Canadians, the changing nature of skills and competencies, and the policies, processes and tools that advance economic inclusion and success. Our action-oriented, evidence-based approach is advancing knowledge of the complex barriers faced by underrepresented groups, leading practices to effect change, and producing concrete results.

About Public Policy Forum

The Public Policy Forum builds bridges among diverse participants in the policy-making process and gives them a platform to examine issues, offer new perspectives and feed fresh ideas into policy discussions.


Media Contact

Eglantine Ronfard
Communications Manager – Responsable Communication
Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures
Phone: 647 262 3706
Email: eglantine.ronfard@fsc-ccf.ca

Tomek Sysak
Communications Specialist, Public Policy Forum
Email: TSysak@ppforum.ca

Funded by thr Government of Canada's Future Skills Program

View More News

Concept of financial, economic problems and inflation

Opinion: Young Canadians are staring at a bleak future of diminished economic prospectsexternal link icon

At 11.3 per cent, the unemployment rate for Canadians aged 15 to 24 is double…

Seven innovative initiatives across Canada focus on surfacing novel solutions for newcomer integration

June 26, 2023 While immigration is responsible for as much as 90% of Canada’s labour…