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Automation and job transformation in Canada: Who’s at risk?

Recent significant advances in artificial intelligence have raised questions about the role of workers in an era when robots and algorithms are increasingly able to perform many job duties, including those previously believed to be non-automatable. The COVID-19 pandemic have added to these concerns, as businesses may turn to new automation technology to perform a broader range of work activities traditionally done by human workers. While previous studies have estimated the share of Canadian workers at high risk of automation-related job transformation, this study is the first to examine in great detail the automation risks faced by different groups of workers. This study applies an approach similar to the one developed by Frey and Osborne (2013) and Arntz, Gregory and Zierahn (2016) to Canadian data. Results suggest that, overall, 10.6% of Canadian workers were at high risk (probability of 70% or higher) of automation-related job transformation in 2016, while 29.1% were at moderate risk (probability of between 50% and 70%). Several groups had a relatively higher share of workers who were at high risk, including those who were older (55 or above), had no postsecondary credentials or postsecondary credentials in certain fields, had low literacy or numeracy proficiency, had low employment income, or were employed part time, in small firms, in certain occupations (e.g., Office support occupations), or in the manufacturing sector. One specific finding of interest is that Business, management and public administration and Health and related fields graduates faced the highest automationrelated job transformation risks among postsecondary certificate and diploma holders, but they were among the groups facing the lowest risks when looking at postsecondary degree holders.