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 .
Schools move some or all programs online
While K-12 and post-secondary schools have begun in person classes across the country, some programs and school boards have decided to provide online alternatives or remain entirely online. In Alberta, where cases have increased significantly over the past few weeks, Calgary and Edmonton school boards have allowed parents to opt in to online learning; Calgary’s online option requires a full year commitment, while Edmonton’s is for the first half.
A new online school for those with learning disabilities in grades 7 and 8 has opened in Alberta. The school is based on Calgary’s Rundle Academy’s in person program, but the virtual option can be delivered across the province. In B.C., parents of children with autism and other special needs have expressed frustration with the lack of support for helping students understand and follow COVID-19 protocols and few online options.
Most post-secondary schools have promised in person programming over the past few months, but some classes have abruptly moved online at the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia – Okanagan (UBCO). In Calgary, some students found out in the week before classes started that all of their classes have moved online. Students in the Human Kinetics program at UBCO were also given a weeks notice that their entire program was moving online. Components for other programs and courses have also made the shift at UBCO. The law program at the University of Manitoba announced on August 13 it would continue online. Post-secondary institutions in Lethbridge have not made any online options yet but have said they are ready to pivot if and when necessary. Universities in Saskatchewan have not announced any moves to online but do require vaccines for staff, faculty, and students, similar to other institutions’ in person requirements across the country.
Training for the future
With close to 3,100 tech companies now based in Alberta, compared to about 1,200 companies in 2018, the province’s tech boom is well underway and training programs to support the sector continue to emerge. We highlighted InceptionU’s programs in our June brief– new cohorts begin this fall. Another program is offered by NPower Canada, which provides 15-week programs to those between the ages of 17 and 30 who have a high school diploma. The programs offered are either for Junior IT Analyst or Junior Data Analyst and the expansion into Alberta reflects the growing industry.
The Alberta government also recently announced a $5.6 million pilot micro credential program that will offer short term credentials in key target sectors for the province. The micro credential program will be offered at 19 different institutions and cover 56 different credentials. These programs will include machine learning and AI as well as data privacy and agri-business. Read this previous brief for more on how Western Canadian PSIs are building micro credentials for the future and other non-profit tech training programs.
Literacy programs in Canada’s north have received a combined $1.6 million in federal funds to build pan-territorial programs. The Yukon Literacy Coalition, NWT Literacy Council and Ilitaqsiniq (Nunavut Literacy Council) will jointly provide programming for youth to build the skills and confidence needed to enter the workforce. The CBC report quotes Employment and Social Development Canada, “[f]or Indigenous youth between the ages of 15 and 29, […] the participation rate in the labour market reached a low-point in May 2021 at 21.6 per cent, compared to 48.6 in September 2020.”
A recent report by Cushman and Wakefield states that a substantial increase of international students studying in Canada has driven the development of privately funded student residences to meet the demand for on-campus accommodations. The pandemic and return to in person learning have compounded the existing problem. Edmonton students have felt the housing crunch this fall as students try to find accommodations with rentals going off the market two times faster.
Development company GEC will soon begin construction of its Education Mega Centre next to the Surrey City Centre SkyTrain to help solve Vancouver’s student housing crunch. This 49-story building will include 383 student rental units on top of up to 12 private institutions, offices, retail and student support services such as a job placement centre and international-student immigration consultants. Rental units will likely consist of one and two-bedroom accommodations with the latter likely costing between $800 and $1200 for 500-square-feet. Vancouver currently ranks first in Canada for highest rental rates with one bedroom and two-bedroom suites costing an average of $2,185 and $3,041 respectively.
In the Yukon, retirees and those who want to get out of cities have put pressure on the real estate market. Denny Kobbayashi, a spokesperson for the Yukon Chamber of Commerce says that the current state of the real estate market is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the Yukon. Kobbayash has seen potential hires have to turn down offers because they can’t find suitable accommodation.
Daycare and Early Childhood Educators
The Saskatchewan and federal governments have signed a billion-dollar child-care agreement. The agreement would mean a 50 per cent reduction of fees by the end of 2022, and $10/day daycare for children under six by 2026. Since lower day care costs lead to higher demand for spots, the deal includes an estimated 28,000 new regulated early learning and child-care spaces. Early child-care providers would see a wage top up of up to three dollars an hour in addition to professional development opportunities. Dustin Duncan, the province’s minister of education said that the government will also be working with Indigenous communities, immigrants and people with disabilities to develop appropriate child-care options.
Manitoba and British Columbia have also announced their own childcare funding agreements with the federal government. Like Saskatchewan, each agreement would allow for a 50 per cent reduction of fees by the end of 2022 and lead to the creation of regulated early learning and childcare spaces. Provincial $10/day childcare would be available by 2023 in Manitoba and 2026 in British Columbia. The agreements could be altered depending on the outcome of the upcoming federal election.
The Alberta and federal governments have recently agreed to extend the Canada-Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. Included in the agreement is the allocation of $56 million over the next year for the recruitment, retention and training of early childhood educators. Between March 2020-21, Alberta lost one in five early childhood educators as pandemic restrictions temporarily closed daycares across the province. The program could be one way to attract those who have left back to the workforce. Nunavut may see similar attraction to the sector as the territory and the federal government have renewed the Canada–Northwest Territories Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. The agreement also includes increased opportunities for postsecondary and professional development for early childhood educators.
In other news:
- The University of Victoria has asked students to stop attending large social functions after hundreds of unmasked students attend an on-campus gathering.
- Global News takes a look at why 800,000 jobs are going unfilled in the country. While COVID-19 economic supports are part of the story, the lack of foreign workers are also causing labour market shortages.
- The Financial Post explores the shortage of workers in the Canadian agricultural industry, which is expected to grow to 123,000 jobs by 2029.
- Laurentian University asked to extend its restructuring process. The university has already cut 70 programs and over 100 faculty.
- Professors in Georgia have quit, one professor in the middle of class, over the lack of vaccine or mask mandates in the state.
The Future of Work & Learning Brief is compiled by Stephany Laverty, Janet Lane and Justin Rodych. 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 .