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Future shock? The impact of automation on Canada’s labour market

In the aftermath of the economic crisis, few policy issues have attracted as much attention as skills development. Discussion has focused on the types of skills that employees need to ensure they can successfully navigate an ever-more demanding labour market, and those that employers need to have on hand to help them survive in an ever-more competitive marketplace. This has been accompanied by concerns about skills gaps and mismatches – about whether some Canadians are making poor choices when it comes to their education and training, and whether the labour market is beset with a paradoxical combination of over- and under-qualified workers. In this context, attention has continued to focus on the need for better labour market information to guide the decision of employees, employers and policy makers alike. As an advisory panel on the issue argued in 2009, œa good LMI [labour market information] system will help to improve the matching of people and jobs both in times of labour shortages and high unemployment. And a good LMI system is always necessary to make sure that the right policy decisions are made to improve the economy’s performance and lower unemployment.1 In particular, those concerned with the need to better align the skills that workers have with the needs of employers have identified two significant shortcomings with respect to labour market information in Canada: an insufficient level of granularity in the data that tell us what is really going on in the labour market, and a lack of evidence about what kinds of skills training programs are actually succeeding in helping employees keep their jobs or transition to new ones