The Future Skills Centre strives to be a thought leader in emerging debates about future skills, trends, innovative approaches, and the development of an ecosystem that will prepare us for an uncertain future.

Our research will help Canadians — including current and future job-seekers, employers, policymakers, service providers, educators, and researchers — to better understand future skills priorities, knowledge gaps, and leading practices, as well as to build capacity to address these demands.

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It will bring together experts bridging supply and demand-side perspectives, reflecting the diverse interests and supporting approaches that are both people-centric and employer-informed. This research will help us identify opportunities for systemic change that will contribute to coordinated and focused responses to addressing Canada’s future skills needs.

Through our research, the Future Skills Centre will address the following questions:

  • What are the future skills and competencies that best prepare Canadians for the new economy?
  • How can our skills development ecosystem best serve diverse and vulnerable populations, as well as employers?
  • What are new and innovative approaches to preparing for the future skills needs and demands that work?
  • How can we create a responsive and effective skills ecosystem? 

Key to our research strategy is collaboration

We will work closely with all levels of government, the Forum of Labour Market Ministers (FLMM), Labour Market Information Centre (LMIC), research institutions, subject matter experts, and diverse stakeholders to curate, complement, and coordinate knowledge.

Altogether, we will explore existing approaches to identify the most important skills for the future. We will also develop new approaches, frameworks, processes, and tools to strengthen the skills development ecosystem and better match job-seekers to jobs.

We are working with a diverse team of more than 100 world class diverse multidisciplinary researchers from academic institutions, think tanks, and community organizations bringing together a pool of expertise in economics, information technology, predictive analytics, education, management, sociology, gender and diversity studies, and multiple methods and new technologies (such as AI-enabled data analytics).

Core Activities

The research that we undertake and curate will include seven core activities:
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Analyze macro trends and their impacts

Macro Analysis of Trends and Implications to address fragmented and inconsistent Labour Market Information (LMI) and analyses of future skills trends. We will:

  1. examine existing literature from academic and non-academic sources to consolidate the current state of knowledge on future skills trends in Canada and internationally;
  2. complement the work of the LMIC and provincial workforce organizations through innovative, forward-looking research that move beyond current approaches to understanding and measuring labour market trends; and,
  3. work with partners to understand how specific trends in the labour market could drive the skills needs of the future through scenario development.
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Map the current state of knowledge and the ecosystem

Continuous Current State Mapping to assess what we know and do not know, as well as what is new or innovative. Working in close collaboration with our intergovernmental partners, we will collect and share information about who is doing what in the skills development ecosystem to better understand strengths, gaps, and opportunities. We will:

  1. develop a taxonomy for standardized data collection on skills development programs;
  2. conduct regional, sectoral, and diverse population mapping using standardized tools; and,
  3. work with Magnet to develop interactive tools hosted on a web-based portal to allow for continuous and ongoing collecting, sharing, and refining of the mapping.
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Identify needs and gaps

Continuous Needs Assessment and Feedback to identify current issues, priorities, gaps, and opportunities within Canada’s skills development ecosystem. We will:

  1. develop a taxonomy for the training ecosystem mapping, including: employers, industry, educational institutions, and community-based organizations; types of training; and segmentation of users (e.g., by geography, age, ethnicity, and education);
  2. host consultations to identity key themes and priorities using surveys and our interactive portal; and,
  3. review existing labour market information to identify current state, gaps, and opportunities.
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Review and synthesize existing evidence

Evidence Review to examine what works and what doesn’t work. We will use crowdsourcing techniques and work with partners, including global leaders such as the World Economic Forum and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to review, gather, and organize existing national and international evidence on promising strategies for skills development, with an emphasis on identifying effective approaches for meeting future skills needs. We will:

  1. carry out a systematic search of studies and reports from Canada and other countries to identify program models and practices that are effective in helping individuals build the skills needed to succeed;
  2. engage our stakeholder networks to share evidence about what works; and,
  3. leverage our advanced technology platform to engage Canadians broadly and use a variety of tools to help stakeholders to contribute to and gain from its resources.
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Examine emerging frameworks

Emerging Concepts and Frameworks that help prepare us for transformations in the labour market, including how to:

  1. identify what skills will be most important in the future;
  2. share tools such as competency frameworks to help bridge employer, job-seeker, and service provider understandings; and,
  3. identify and develop new approaches which better assess and develop competencies, match job-seekers to jobs, and strengthen the ecosystem.
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Explore innovative policies, programs, tools, and technologies

Innovative Policies, Programs, Tools and Technologies that help individuals and communities build the skills they need to adapt to changing labour markets. We will:

  1. conduct research and consultations with national and international stakeholders to explore the potential for innovative practices, such as flexible working arrangements, assistive technologies, analytic and training tools, and new online augmented reality and virtual reality-based training systems, to be incorporated into Canada’s skills development ecosystem;
  2. identify new approaches to corporate upskilling;
  3. continuously track and monitor these new approaches and tools on a global basis to identify opportunities for innovative projects; and,
  4. identify drivers and impediments to innovation processes.
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Address targeted thematic questions

We will identify important research questions requiring more in-depth research. For example, there is evidence of poorer employment outcomes in specific sectors for some segments of the Canadian population (racialized minorities, newcomers, Indigenous communities, women, youth, LGBTQ2+, and persons with disabilities). We will:

  1. improve understanding of how these different communities may be impacted by shifts in the labour market, and the implications that this will have for understanding the future skills needs of diverse groups; and,
  2. conduct in-depth research on promising practices and approaches to skills training that will help erode systemic barriers and ensure the success of diverse groups in the future world of work.

Featured Research Projects

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Small and Medium-Sized Employers (SMEs): Skills Gaps and Future Skills

Canada’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for more than 90 percent of private-sector jobs in Canada. To be competitive in today’s market, they need the right people with the right skills, yet they are disproportionately threatened by labour shortages and skills gaps – a situation made worse by COVID-19. Unlike large corporations, SMEs possess limited resources, making it exponentially more challenging to support these human resources needs. There is a dire need for innovative research & solutions.
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Curriculum and Reconciliation: Introducing Indigenous Perspectives into K–12 Science

Curriculum and Reconciliation: Introducing Indigenous Perspectives into K–12 Science briefly and visually outlines the landscape of school science curricula across the country. Several jurisdictions integrate Indigenous content, perspectives, and ways of knowing, while others have yet to include references to Indigenous perspectives.
Group of women at a table working on their laptops

Economic Equality in a Changing World: Removing Barriers to Employment for Women

Action is needed to alleviate gender barriers. This report summarizes existing research and prevailing issues surrounding gender inequality, including those exacerbated by COVID-19, and points to further research that needs to be done on initiatives to reduce gender inequalities.
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