Technological advances ushered in by digital transformation are likely to outclass humans performing many manual and cognitive tasks. To remain competitive and become more efficient, companies often have no choice but to embrace these technologies. Women workers represent a group that could be one of the most adversely affected by task automation and job restructuring. In Canada, women, despite academically outperforming men in high school math and sciences, continue to be underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs in higher education. Male workers tend to have better technology skills than women in all fields and at all levels.
In Canada, there are 23,000 insurance jobs, 11,000 in Québec’s Chaudière-Appalaches region alone, where the study will be focused. In this region, women account for 65% percent of the workforce and make up 58% of management positions in the insurance sector. The low-skill positions held by the women with low levels of education are impacted relatively highly by task automation and job restructuring. Among jobs most likely to be affected by this digital transformation are: insurance technician, customer service representative, administrative assistant, staffing representative and accountant technician.
A consortium of researchers at Université Laval — who are tapped into international networks examining the implications of artificial intelligence and other digital innovations — and their partners will analyze the skills development needs for female workers, organizations, and the insurance sector to diagnose current, foreseeable (or unforeseeable) changes for the industry, creating training pathways and career support for female workers who may be displaced into more future-facing jobs.
The Future Skills Centre is investing $1.01 million into the two-year, first-of-its-kind project, which will build on an innovative network of scientific expertise in education, management, human resource management, information systems, and industrial relations. The research will also build a broader picture of the (relatively unexplored) labour market in Quebec.
The study will:
- Assess the nature and extent of digital transformation in positions filled by female workers from at-risk socio-professional categories, as well as the needs of workers and employers;
- Develop innovative approaches to skills management, training and support, and models for the reskilling, upskilling, and outskilling of those female workers;
- Evaluate training and support models tests, from the view of the workers and their organizations, with an eye to ongoing improvement.
This project will be evaluated using tools and approaches aligned with its goals, context, and stage of development. The evaluation will focus on generating the right evidence at the right moment to move the intervention forward. Read more about our evaluation strategy.