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 .

New approaches to integrate work and learning

What are some of the recent innovations to incorporate work integrated learning into every student’s experience? On December 10 at 11 a.m. (MT) join Dr. David J. Finch, Professor and Senior Fellow at Mount Royal University’s Institute for Community Prosperity and Janet Lane, CWF’s Director of the Human Capital Centre for a POP UP Policy Zoom session as they discuss this important direction to align the needs of employers with the competencies of graduating students. Colleen Collins, Vice-President at CWF and former Associate Dean at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, will host with Q&A session to follow. Register here.

Digital wallets for credentials

What if employers and post-secondary institutions could verify student or job applicant credentials in a matter of minutes rather than weeks to months? Blockchain systems that provide digital wallets for rapid credential verification are under development or ready to use. Read more on the need to transition from manual to digital credential verification here. 

Calgary company Terrahub, which provides blockchain solutions to PwC Canada, has also built a Digital Credential Network using blockchain. The network provides workers with a digital wallet containing all their credentials and résumé materials and a Compliance Dashboard for employers who can rapidly check to ensure the credentials are verified and legitimate. Read more on this solution here. 

The virtual future of health care

A recent Environics survey, Canadian Attitudes on Health Care and Telemedicine, shows that 20 per cent of those surveyed strongly agree and 50 per cent agree that telemedicine is the future of health care, especially if provided through a health and benefits plan rather than paid for out of pocket. Dialogue, a virtual health care provider, paid for the survey. Read the full report here. 

How can Canada implement virtual and telehealth care? The Canadian Medical Association, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada formed a Virtual Care Taskforce to provide recommendations about interoperability and governance, licensure and quality of care, payment models, and medical education. Highlights include recommendations related to virtual competencies, a national virtual care faculty development plan, and national virtual care accreditation standards. Access the report and all of the recommendations here. 

A recent study of cancer patients in the United States showed that “[u]ninsured patients, patients with Medicaid, and patients with lower median household incomes had less odds of completing a virtual care visit” but such disparity was not seen when comparing telephone visits. In Australia, telehealth was included as part of Medicare coverage at the start of the pandemic and the country has now made the service permanent; the government had previously expected telehealth to be available in 2030. Read more on the U.S. study here and Australia’s decision here 

With a grant from Bell Let’s Talk, the non-profit Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) expanded its free, virtual health care support service BounceBack into Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. A new CMHA survey on mental health during the second wave of the pandemic suggests that other coping mechanisms are more widely used than virtual resources – three per cent of those surveyed used virtual mental health resources while 54 per cent used outdoor exercise and 17 per cent increased substance use. Access the BounceBack program here. 

Private company Loblaws expanded its virtual PC Health App into Alberta from Atlantic Canada, B.C. and Ontario. The app currently provides access to health care information resources but there are plans to include virtual physician care and pharmacy access soon. Read more about the app here. 

Solutions to pandemic health care pressures

To alleviate staff pressures at continuing care homes, Red River College and the Government of Manitoba have rolled out a condensed training program. The weeklong certificate will allow uncertified health care aides to stock supplies, sit with and observe patients which will allow certified staff to complete more complex tasks. The program is free for those who commit to three months of supervised work in a care home. Read more about the program here. 

Pandemic recovery in construction

Construction management platform company ProCore’s new report How We Build Now Canada provides an overview of how Canada’s construction sector is recovering from the pandemic. Of Canadian construction companies, 44 per cent say that they remained as productive as before the pandemic, 26 per cent reported a drop in productivity and 27 per cent said that they had increased productivity. In terms of workers, 45 per cent want to work remotely or off site and 39 per cent wanted to work more safely on site. Read the full report here. 

Work in local communities during the pandemic is one benefit for construction workers currently employed on the Lac la Ronge Treatment Centre project in northern Saskatchewan. The centre will also create 30 administration and support staff jobs in the area in addition to providing necessary addiction and mental health services. Read more on this project and how it is overcoming the regional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid crisis. 

Rethinking supports for small and medium-sized businesses  

With the transition away from traditional storefronts, governments might need to rethink small and medium business supports. For instance, while businesses with storefronts are able to apply for government funding in Manitoba, small online or mobile businesses are not yet eligible for the same relief in the province. Photographers, event planning professionals, DJs and others who are part of the local wedding and event industry – and mainly operating out of their homes – have been especially hard hit due to the gathering restrictions. The government has said that it will look at including these businesses in future supports. The case study provides interesting food for thought for the future economy as more businesses go digital. Read more here. 

Alberta Innovates and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) have partnered to expand grant programs to help small and medium enterprises in Alberta grow and become more competitive. Grants of up to $9.2 million over two years, will allow universities and research industries to support SMEs in their research initiatives and help grow intellectual property in Alberta. Read about the program here. 

Canadian producer goes to LA; major TV production comes to Calgary

Jacob Pratt from Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan started his own Indigenous-focused production company, Skoden Entertainment, based in L.A. Disney has already signed the company, which Jacob only started in September, to produce three mini-episodes focused on Indigenous youth. Read more about Skoden entertainment and the Disney deal here. 

Apple and Jim Henson Productions joined forces to produce a new Fraggle Rock series which will be filmed, starting in January, over all three sound stages at the Calgary Film Centre. While it’s a major production, it’s unclear how many workers will be involved. Read more on the production, which will be a much needed boost to the Calgary arts sector, here. 

Indigenous land-based education in STEM

“Indigenous knowledge is actually science,” says Actua’s InSTEM program director, Doug DokisActua, a STEM educator, has asked roundtables of educators how to incorporate Indigenous land-based knowledge into science and technology curricula. Read more about what Indigenous land based learning could mean for Saskatchewan here. 

Resource development in B.C. and Manitoba 

Twenty-one mayors have written an open letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan pointing to recent innovations in aquaculture, current energy projects, and the resilience of the forestry and mining sectors as key indicators that resource industries can be a driver of recovery. These sectors are major employers which produce 80 per cent of B.C.’s goods exports. The letter recommends four key pillars for the government and industry to move forward together. Read the letter to learn more.  

The Manitoba Mineral Development Fund has given a $300,000 grant to Callinex to develop the Rainbow Discovery high grade copper mine. The project has the potential to create long-term jobs near Flin Flon, which will see the shutdown of the Hudbay’s 777 mine in 2022. See the news release for more details. 

Vertical Greenhouse in B.C. 

In a first, CubicFarm Systems Corp. announced it will pilot an automated, environment controlled fresh produce growing system for Aright Greentech Canada Ltd. in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. If successful, the development could be expanded into other regions and would represent a significant shift in B.C. agriculture. Read more on the project here. 

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 .