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 .

2022 labour market outlook

Randstad has released its list of top jobs trending in 2022, the jobs expected to be most in demand. The top five are key account manager, developer, marketing manager, registered nurse and driver. Randstad notes that “[i]ndustries with major growth include the service sector, technology and health care, but some of the best jobs in Canada for 2022 are those that can support businesses in multiple industries.”

MacLean’s asked economists and analysts to share one chart to help define the economy in the year ahead. The first release focused on jobs and income and included some interesting insights.

For women in the workplace, Stéphanie Lluis, associate professor, Economics, University of Waterloo, cites a Canadian Perspectives survey which found men are generally happier with remote work than women. The piece suggested that for men, the appeal could be the flexibility but women may be missing out on key career opportunities. Lluis asks “is remote work going to revert back to pre-pandemic levels and, if not, will increased remote work opportunities hinder or reduce gender inequality in the workplace?”

Lluis’ colleague, Mikal Skuterud, found “[a]djusting Canadian labour force participation rates to make them comparable to U.S. rates reveals a Canadian advantage dating back to 2001 that reached an all-time high of six percentage points in September 2021.” Skuterud asks how this might change “as Canada invests in ambitious subsidized [childcare programs across the country].”

The Globe and Mail provides a similar roundup and Jennifer Robson, associate professor of political management, Carleton University, points to the possible long term health impacts of having COVID-19. Robson asks if “policy makers, employers and insurance providers [will] respond to the challenges faced by working-age adults with disabilities?”

COVID-19 continues to impact the workforce

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has received reports from across Canada about the current impact of COVID-19 on the workforce. “A lot of staff are simply self-isolating because they are a close contact or they are feeling unwell,” said CFIB’s Annie Dormuth, “Unfortunately, it’s compounding an existing problem business owners were dealing with pre-pandemic, and that is really a shortage of labour issue.”

Emergency services in many cities across Canada are experiencing staffing shortages due to illness or isolation from COVID-19. On January 5, Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth declared a state of emergency for the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS). The declaration allows more flexibility in the redeployment of officers. As of January 6, WPS had over 10 per cent of their staff off due to COVID-19 with 90 active cases and 170 personnel on COVID-19 related leave.

The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) discontinued the COVID-19 cost relief program as a result of the widespread availability and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. The WCB stated that the program was implemented prior to the availability of vaccines and when COVID-19 safety measures were not as widely implemented.

Statistics Canada has released a report on COVID-19 in Canada: A One-year Update on Social and Economic Impacts. The report indicates that low population growth driven by an increase in deaths, decrease in immigration and delayed family planning will impact Canada’s labour force.

Benefits and drawbacks of remote learning

A recent survey on the impacts of remote learning in Canada has highlighted the need to address uneven digital literacy levels and the digital divide experienced by remote communities and the most vulnerable. The report, published by The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), indicates that 21 per cent of parents surveyed believed their children did not have the digital skills necessary for remote learning and up to three quarters of parents with children in kindergarten to grade three said that they themselves do not have the digital skills required to help their children study at home.

Twenty-eight per cent of parents stated that the computer used by their children for remote learning is shared with other members of the household. Forty per cent of rural parents reported that their broadband service did not allow for the entire household to work and study at the same time, an issue that was most prevalent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Canadian research has shown in-person school to be intrinsically associated with a parent’s, and particularly a mother’s, ability to remain in the workforce. Mothers with young children who are required to work and home-school their children are one of the groups to experience the highest levels of stress and anxiety.

To support students in grades four to nine, the Alberta government has launched free online tutoring resources to help students catch up on important skills and assist those who have fallen behind during the pandemic.

Energy jobs pick up while others move to other sectors

Edson, Alberta has seen a recent influx of about 2,000 workers as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a TC Energy project, and the Cascade Energy Project power plant are all underway in the area. However, workers face a housing crunch, as noted by the town’s Mayor Kevin Zahara who told the CBC: “[o]ur hotels are packed — we have zero per cent rental vacancy available.”

Grande Prairie, Alberta also projects a population increase of approximately 30,000 in the next 10 years as alternative energy projects get underway, Global News reports. One geothermal project from Nauticol Energy would mean 300 permanent jobs and 5,000 for construction. The project is still waiting a final investment decision.

The ?utsël K’é Dene First Nation’s development corporation, Denesoline, in the Northwest Territories has a project underway to build a microgrid in ?utsel K’e, the Toronto Star reports. The sustainable grid would help transition the community away from diesel fuel. To build the requisite skills, the corporation is working with the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the Digital Technology Supercluster, and Siemens Canada to train those in the community. If successful, the project could be rolled out to other communities.

The Financial Post reports recent employment numbers from the United States show that energy workers are finding success in other sectors and those on the frontlines in Canada are seeing the same thing. Jeanette Sutherland, director of the multi-stakeholder Energy to Digital Growth Education and Upskilling Project (EDGE UP) tells the Financial Post “50 per cent of geoscientists have 60 per cent of the core competencies to become data analysts, and that engineers have 50 per cent of the skills to transition into project manager roles, which are in high demand […] especially tech, where 2,000 jobs remain unfilled in Alberta right now.”

Calgary tech firms face both local and global competition for tech talent, the Calgary Herald reports. As Kelly Schmitt, Benevity Inc. CEO, told the Herald “[w]e’ve been experiencing the great resignation and just the war for tech talent that is happening in North America […] We are now competing with Silicon Valley and the rest of the world to an extent.”

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