The Future of Work and Learning Brief
Issue 30 | January 11, 2023
What disruptions are affecting the labour market? Which skills and competencies are required for new and evolving jobs? How can people and institutions adapt to the future of work and learning? Through this monthly brief, keep on top of developments in the workforce and how education and training are changing today to build the skills and competencies needed for the future. Priority will go to stories focused on Western Canada. If you know of something relevant and want to send for inclusion in the next brief, email .
Image: National Science Laboratory Video Lessons for Aboriginal Youth/Facebook
Indigenous-led economic and skills development
All3Innovation LP, a majority Indigenous-owned tech company, has launched in Saskatchewan through a partnership between Birch Narrows Dene Development Inc., MMLK Group Inc., and Superior Strategies. The company will provide robots to perform unsafe jobs in industries such as mining. The company intends to provide skills training that offer pathways to careers in the tech sector for Indigenous youth in SK and across the country.
The Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) opened the MLTC Bioenergy Centre in northern Saskatchewan which converts woodchips from Indigenous-owned sawmill NorSask Forest Products into power for 5,000 nearby homes. The facility employs 13 people, seven of whom are Indigenous.
First Nations University (FNUniv) has developed a series of high school lessons that incorporate science and Indigenous knowledge for biology, physics and chemistry classes. These lessons include “interviews with elders and knowledge keepers, laboratory manuals, and videos” according to the CBC report.
The Muscowpetung Saulteux Nation has announced a service order agreement with StarLink to provide internet service to 80 per cent of the homes in the Muscowpetung community. In the statement, Chief Melissa Tavita says access to high-speed internet will give children in the community “greater access to resource sharing tools and other forms of higher learning.”
Matching immigrants and refugees with jobs
Immigration set a new record in 2022 with 430,000 new permanent residents and expansion of the temporary foreign worker program (excluding agriculture) to include spouses and working age children. Recent stories shed light on how to better match newcomers with jobs. Mark Myrowich in Manitoba started Myrowich Staffing Agency and the Hire Ukrainian website after he looked to hire Ukrainian refugees for his factories. Others have reached out to him for similar support. Currently, 100 people have been hired – including 11 for the staffing agency and 29 for the factories.
Settlement services and community members help individuals find work and build community connections as a recent Globe and Mail report on Afghan refugees highlights.
Africans from Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia are some of the fastest growing immigrant groups in Alberta, with Calgary seeing the most growth. The Calgary African Community Collective was created to allow community members and newcomers in the city to share information, including job opportunities, with each other. Farah Ali, Executive Director of the Collective, told CBC News that it’s easier and faster for Africans to find work in Calgary compared to other parts of Canada, making the region attractive to African immigrants.
Expanding health care roles
As provincial and territorial governments across Canada continue to deal with health care labour shortages, some groups are calling for the expansion of responsibilities for non-doctors while other governments have made these changes. The Yukon government has permanently granted pharmacists the authority to provide travel-related vaccinations and prescribe for smoking cessation and other minor medical needs. These measures were temporarily granted over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April 2021, Alberta allowed physician assistants. A government official said in a recent report the move “immediately paid dividends” as they can assist doctors by performing patient examinations, diagnostics and test referrals. A B.C-based advocacy group wants similar permissions granted in B.C. The provincial government says it is currently “assessing” the possibility.
A nurse practitioner (NP) with 25 years experience in the United States wants to move back to B.C. and open a practice but says the process could take up to a year. Bonnie Eklund told the Vancouver Sun she would be required to provide proof of license from each of the nine states in which she practiced and complete a four-day course and two-day exam. As responsibilities between doctors and NPs increasingly overlap, eight Interior Health NPs in B.C. are suing the health authority over wage disparity with general practitioners (GPs). They argue that GPs make 70 per cent more than NPs, even though they provide similar services.
What we’re watching in 2023
As the new year begins with concerns over a recession and potential implications for the labour force while industries struggle with labour shortages, here are the stories we’ll be watching closely:
- The “grey-wave” – The impacts of retirements on industries and how businesses respond.
- Tech sector layoffs – There was a series of layoffs from tech companies in the latter half of 2022 and early this year. For example: Salesforce, which has offices in Vancouver and other Canadian cities, began the year laying off 10 per cent of its workforce as the company said it hired too many people during the pandemic tech boom.
- Movement of workers across provinces – Alberta reported its largest ever population increase in 2022, while other provinces are looking to attract and retain talent in the face of increasing labour market pressures.
- Foreign credential recognition opportunities and barriers – While provinces have taken steps to remove barriers to foreign credential recognition, there are still challenges. For example, an Australian doctor who began the process to be credentialed in Canada in 2013 has a lawsuit against the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. and Health Match B.C. He alleges negligence after he learned in 2019 that he was ineligible for the credential recognition pathway the College and Health Match B.C. knew he had been pursuing for years.
- Workforce transitions for traditional sectors: As digitalization and cleantech are rolled out across industries, stakeholders are working to help the workforce transition. For example, the Building Trades of Alberta and X-energy Canada announced a collaborative project to help build the province’s small modular reactor.
- Labour shortages across sectors – Labour shortages have proven to be a complicated issue with complex solutions ranging from upskilling/reskilling to increased immigration and automation. For example, Manitoba has a shortage of substitute teachers.
- Labour force trends – Job numbers continue to rise, though forecasters expect the economy to slow. For example, the December 2022 Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows national employment was up 0.5 per cent compared to November 2022 with BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, and NL seeing increases.
- BHP Group Ltd.’s project to build the world’s largest potash mine east of Saskatoon is expected to employ 2,500 people for the construction portion of the project in 2023. BHP Group also expects to begin recruiting approximately 600 operations staff for the mine.
- Students in NWT who complete high school told CBC News that they have had to upgrade over a few years to have both the courses and the marks to successfully enter post-secondary school. While there are no firm numbers, the report adds that “anecdotally, it’s a common occurrence.”
- HR Reporter recently interviewed experts to find out why, given labour shortages, gig workers continue to be underused. The answer could lie in traditional HR practices and perceptual concerns over worker exploitation.
The Future of Work & Learning Brief is compiled by Stephany Laverty and Janet Lane. If you like what you see, subscribe to our mailing list and share with a friend. If you have any interesting stories for future editions, please send them to .