The Future of Work and Learning Brief
Issue 31 | February 8, 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 .

Western Canada talent attraction

Governments, post-secondary institutions and industries are using targeted measures to attract and retain talent. The Manitoba government announced a delegation will travel to the Philippines to recruit nurses in February. The Saskatchewan government successfully completed a similar delegation in late 2022 and has implemented new efforts to attract and retain local talent through rural incentives and targeted training programs for Indigenous people and high school students.

The Hospitality Industry Welcomes Refugee Employment-linked Sponsorship (HIRES) pilot project, which aims to bring refugees with experience to B.C. to work in the hospitality industry, will continue in the spring. The project brings Kenya-based refugees to Camosun College in Victoria for training before they are employed with job sponsors in Tofino, Kelowna, Vernon or Fairmont Hot Springs.

The Alberta government announced $1 million in funds for the universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge and Northwestern Polytechnic to identify ways to train physicians in rural locations to address rural doctor shortages. Additionally, the province has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with India’s Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, which is expected to enhance Alberta’s ability to recruit talent from India and increase research collaboration.

The Okanagan College Salmon Arm Trades Centre is offering a Construction Craft Worker program to introduce those who are “under-skilled, unemployed or partially employed” to the trades. The B.C. government sponsors the 10-week program and covers costs including tuition, meals, tools and additional supports such as transportation, when needed.

Scotiabank has contributed $750,000 to Teach for Canada, which supports teacher recruitment and retention through indigenous partnerships across the North. Part of the investment will support 150 teachers as they prepare to relocate and expand the program to 12 First Nations communities in Manitoba and Alberta.

Cost of living on campuses

The current prices of food and rent exacerbate cost-of-living pressures for students in areas such as the Okanagan, Global News reports. Graduate students at Simon Fraser University, who feel the pinch, call for a minimum offer of $32,000 after tuition deductions for those in research positions. University of Calgary student Siraaj Shah held a housing workshop to help students understand rental rights and find ways to locate affordable homes. Shah also knows students who prolong their degree programs to afford tuition.

WeiChun Kua, with Migrant Students United at Simon Fraser University, told Business in Vancouver (BIV) that the high cost of living may deter some international students.

However, international student tuition rates are comparatively low compared to other competitor countries, Randall Martin, Executive Director for the B.C. Council for International Education, told BIV. Martin says that despite slowing growth in international student applications to B.C., applications are still high. He adds “[e]ven Prince George and places like that that often have troubles attracting or retaining international students are just booming right now.” Southeast College in Weyburn, Saskatchewan had its first cohort of five international students who arrived in January. The students, from India and the Philippines, are enrolled in the college’s continuing care aide program.

Tech sector challenges and opportunities

With Alphabet’s 12 per cent staff layoff, Edmonton’s DeepMind research office will close while the Toronto and Montreal offices will remain open. Alphabet said in a statement “Edmonton is the only international site directly managed by DeepMind (all the rest are in Google-managed offices) and (is) therefore far more resource-intensive to operate.” Staff at the closing office have the option to transfer to other DeepMind offices. Calgary-based Benevity similarly laid off 14 per cent of staff this month due to market pressures.

Meanwhile, start-ups such as Alberta-based Goodlawyer look to increase hiring. B.C.’s Jane Software Inc., which supports healthcare practices, is expanding. The Globe and Mail took a deep dive into the company’s sustainable growth. Garmin, in Cochrane, Alberta, plans to double its size and create 200 more jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for the region.

In Saskatchewan, tech companies see growth potential in the coming year and are interested in hiring those who have been laid off elsewhere and are intent on creating a Silicon Prairie in the province.

There are also opportunities outside of traditional tech companies or sectors. One of the largest IT employers in Alberta, PCL Construction, has made the “bold decision to stand out as a construction company with a high tech edge.

Saskatchewan is home to Canada’s only telerobotic ultrasound program which allows sonographers to perform ultrasounds across large distances using a robotic arm. The most recent expansion was to install the technology in Gravelbourg’s St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Other News

  • Squamish Nation in B.C. voted on an educational jurisdiction agreement to develop its own education law and “reclaim education” in communities. The agreement means that five Indian Act sections related to education no longer apply to the community.
  • B.C. completed consultations on gig worker employment standards with new policies expected at a later data to enhance protections for workers.
  • Alex Poole, President of the Yukon Medical Association, says “[w]e’ve run nurses to the end of their workability” in the territory. Whitehorse General Hospital is reducing surgeries through March due to nursing shortages.
  • Victoria’s Camosun College has opened an ultrasound clinic to allow students to work alongside doctors. The program will provide hands-on training for students and address the regional backlog.
  • Research out of Simon Fraser University into the pathways and barriers for internationally trained doctors recommends that governments and colleges of physicians and surgeons provide clarity on licensing requirements before doctors move, mental health supports throughout the process, and the creation of additional residencies for international doctors.
  • While there is a shortage of skilled trades workers, particularly in northern B.C., stigma of perceptions that the trades are “tortuously inflexible” or less respected than other jobs can act as a barrier to those who are considering such work. For parents, lack of childcare can also be prohibitive as work sites often need people at odd hours or over long periods of time.

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 .

Photo by Kenny Eliason, Unsplash