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Key Theme

Sectors in Transition

An increasingly unpredictable and volatile Canadian labour market has more and more workers thinking about their jobs now and in the coming years. It’s understandable. Alongside rapid digitalization, the Canadian economy is also on a trajectory toward decarbonization, and many industries and occupations will be affected by these forces. For individuals, concerns range from occupation changes, new skilling requirements and their ability to find suitable and quality employment in a related field. Employers are also challenged, worried about sourcing the right labour and skills to keep them competitive. 

We support research and experimentation in skills training to ensure workers can transition between industries in the least amount of time and at the lowest cost to themselves, their employers and the public. We aim to ensure employers have access to the right skills, at the right time, in the right places to drive inclusive prosperity for all.

Key Insights

A 2021 poll found that 80% of SMEs needed more workers with digital skills, but 68% were having trouble finding and hiring them.

Big data in agriculture has the potential to improve yields, reduce environmental impacts and improve economic returns, yet many farmers lack trust in technology providers.

46% of new jobs in natural resources and agriculture and 40% of new jobs in trades, transport and equipment will require an enhanced skillset to meet the goals of a net- zero economy.

How are mid-career workers supported to upskill? 

What are Canada’s most vulnerable jobs? 

The Issue: Support needed to manage transitions

It’s difficult to imagine a sector or industry in Canada that is not undergoing rapid change and adaptation. It’s happening in tourism and hospitality, manufacturing and mining, oil and gas and agriculture, retail and health care. Each of these sectors is in the midst of changes in both what work is done, and how it is delivered. The impact of technology, shifting demographics, policy inequities that magnify income inequality, uneven access to training, climate change and global market forces, are all leading to challenges in key sectors of Canada’s economy.

Supporting sectors in transition means supporting workers and employers to better understand the challenges on the horizon and the changes required to overcome them. 

For workers, accurate local labour market information is essential to planning for future mobility and career pathways between jobs and sectors. Coordinated systems that effectively assess skills, identify gaps and connect workers to employer-recognized educational and training opportunities can create pathways into and out of sectors in flux.   

For employers, upskilling the existing workforce and training new recruits requires finding and delivering training in collaboration with a range of stakeholders — a financial and resource expense that is especially difficult for small- and medium enterprises to bear. Up-to-date, industry-validated competency frameworks and job profiles help to align training design, inform career planning and ensure employers are tapping into workers whose skills have been largely undervalued in the past. These include Indigenous workers, Black and other racialized workers, newcomers and women. 

Regional and local workforce planning councils have an important role to play as they are well placed to spread innovative adaptations across sectors and create economies of scale for technological adoption. These councils can help to facilitate the movement of large numbers of workers between industries and address the impacts on communities. 

Why It Matters

Handled poorly, rapid shifts of economic activity across sectors affect the well-being and prosperity of Canadian workers and exacerbate labour and skills shortages and mismatches. Those who already find themselves at the margins of the economy are further excluded. The growth and competitiveness of companies are impeded, including those in sectors with high growth prospects. There are collateral impacts on the communities that lose and receive workers.

Handling large shifts in economic activity effectively requires good labour market information, education and training that responds to evolving skills demand, clearly defined career pathways, and workforce planning that integrates equity and inclusion. 

Strong partnerships across the skills ecosystem, for example between employers and post-secondary institutions, are needed to align skills supply and demand. Stronger collaboration, coordination and knowledge sharing are needed to concentrate actors around common goals.

Learn more about how we are supporting sectors in transition

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