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 .

Summer of quitting

After months of pandemic overwork, burnout, and uncertainty in job prospects, some are calling this the “summer of quitting.” A recent LifeWorks and Deloitte survey gives credence to the new moniker as 51 per cent of senior managers surveyed said they are considering a resignation, retirement, or a lesser role. RBC Economics says this mass wave of resignations will have detrimental effects on the national labour market leading to labour shortages over the summer and fall. A recent survey in the United States showed that out of 3,000 respondents, 65 per cent would turn down a $30,000 raise to continue working from home. Ceridian explores how employers can retain employees and keep up with the fast-paced changes of a post-pandemic world in its latest report 2020-2021 Executive Survey: Winning the new war for talent.

A study conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association shows that a whopping 500,000 direct hotel operation jobs lost in the pandemic are forecasted not to return by the end of the year. For those who have left the sector, a recent U.S. survey shows that those who previously worked in the sector want a different setting, higher pay, better benefits, and flexibility. “38% of former hospitality workers report that they are not even considering a hospitality job for their next position.” The Canadian sector has also had shortages with the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association estimating the sector is short 40,000 workers. Calgary and Edmonton restaurants and hotels also report staff shortages but specific numbers are not available.

Apple delays back-to-work plans

Apple recently announced it would delay back-to-work-plans by a month due to COVID-19 uncertainty. The return date will now be in October for many employees. As COVID cases from variants of concern remain high, and even growing in some places, decisions like Apple’s may be more common. Google has also pushed back its return to the office. Apple initially faced backlash from employees when it announced its original reopening schedule for September, which would include a mandatory three days per week in the office. Workers were quick to express their displeasure as they wanted more flexibility in their schedules. As Canada reopens, these developments may be a sign of things to come; the United States is ahead in the reopening process.

Mandatory vaccinations for specific groups

Manitoba is currently caught in a debate of the merits of mandatory vaccinations in specific vulnerable sectors such as personal care home workers. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccination task force says they are in discussions but “no decisions have been made and no final recommendations from public health have been made” either. The UBC Alma Mater Society has asked the university to put more stringent measures in place for the fall.  UBC isn’t alone in its decision. While  some major universities in the United States have mandated vaccines for those who return to campus, most Canadian post-secondary institutions have not followed suit.

What is needed for oil and gas worker transition?

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan recently revealed plans of a “Just Transition” strategy to help shift oil and gas workers into cleaner work sectors. O’Regan says the plan is to have “[w]orkers at the centre of a clean energy future.” The federal government opened public consultations for workers, labour groups and industry stakeholders on proposed federal legislation to facilitate the transition.

Iron and Earth recently released a poll which showed that more than two-thirds of workers in Canada’s fossil-fuel sector believe the country needs to address climate change. 61 per cent believe there needs to be a pivot to a net-zero economy. Additionally, the poll found 69 per cent of workers are interested in a switch to jobs in the net-zero economy but 60 per cent are concerned they will be left behind. A recent Clean Energy Canada study found that fossil fuel employment is set to drop another nine per cent by 2030. Read this Edmonton Journal article for more information.

Health care shortages and innovation

A recent Global News report estimates that about a dozen hospitals in Alberta have had to close beds due to staffing shortages. A Globe and Mail report on shortages across the country attributed the lack of staff to a “long-standing problem exacerbated by COVID-19.” The situation is particularly tense in Alberta with nurses facing a three per cent wage rollback among other cuts. Shazma Mithani, an emergency physician at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, says she has “never seen anything like this before, ever.” Some nurses have discussed leaving the province altogether or striking.

Alberta is not alone in its shortage of health care staff. In B.C., paramedics say there are systemic issues in the system which became readily apparent with staffing concerns during the heat wave. A Global News article identifies these issues as: staffing shortages, refusal to put mandatory recall in place, rural on call pay of $2 per hour when not on a call, and a requirement to stay with patients in hospital until they have a bed. Nunavut will temporarily close two health centres temporarily and cut services to other centres.

In Saskatchewan, a trial program is underway to embed psychiatric nurses in 9-1-1 call centres. The initiative is the first of its kind in Canada but could provide a new model for mental health crisis emergency response. Nurses are able to access patient records, which police cannot, and hopefully help officers to respond more effectively.

Calgary and Edmonton tech hubs

As Calgary grows as an innovation and technology centre many new companies are opening shop in the city. One new project, set to open in September, is RBC’s Innovation Hub which has plans to hire 300 tech workers in the three years following opening and will be located in Bankers Hall, downtown. Calgary Economic Development has also announced a request for proposals to explore how esports can be delivered in the province. Calgary recently ranked 28 in the top 50 of CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent, which ranks tech hubs across North America. Edmonton placed 38th, the first time it has cracked the top 50.

The new B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy

An investment of $105 million is to be made in the new B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy. The funding is coming from three partners: the B.C. and federal governments and Shell Canada. Each stakeholder has committed $35 million to the project. The centre is expected “to help with the commercialization and scale-up of BC-based clean-energy technologies.”

Protein Industries Canada investment

Protein Industries Canada will invest in a project to help improve data use within Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. The project will support the joint efforts of the Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative (EMILI) and the Alberta Data Institute (ADI). According to this Financial Post article, the EMILI Data Initiative addresses data literacy knowledge gaps and work to understand important issues arising from the increasing use of data in the agri-food sector, such as data ownership, standardization and privacy.

Advanced Materials & Related Technology (CAMTEC) BioMedical Core

The federal government has committed just over $500,000 for the Centre for Advanced Materials & Related Technology (CAMTEC) BioMedical Core at the University of Victoria. The funds will help build a Class II biosafety facility, or wetlab, which will be shared by a broad range of clients. The specialized equipment in this facility will support oncology and precision health, apparel manufacturing, and water treatment programs. The centre will allow increased access to critical infrastructure and training for industry partners that lack access to specialized equipment.


The Future of Work & Learning Brief is compiled by Stephany Laverty, Janet Lane and Mehera Salah. 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 .