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 Canadian youth migration and the future of work

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have all seen recent net losses of youth to interprovincial migration while B.C. has seen net gains say two recent reports from the Canada West Foundation. The foundation explored migration drivers for Alberta youth specifically and found there is a complex mix of economic, quality of life, life stage, and values factors which drive youth decisions to either leave or not come to the province. The loss of youth combined with expected retirements could compound already existing skilled labour shortages. As part of the Foundation’s work in this area, future FWL briefs will include a feature section on what Western Canadian and global stakeholders are doing to attract talent in sectors of relevance to the West.

Workforce Shortages in Healthcare – Physician Spotlight

The Hay River Health and Social Services Authority (HRHSSA) anticipates an unprecedented shortage of skilled professionals over the next six months due to employee departures. The emergency department at Hay River Regional Health Centre was without a qualified emergency room physician last month for 6 days. During this time, nursing staff triaged and assessed residents who presented to the emergency department, followed by a consult with physicians at the Stanton Territorial Hospital (STH) in Yellowknife. Fortunately, the health centre’s emergency department returned to regular physician services on March 24, just as STH began to experience their own struggles with staffing due to a COVID-19 exposure-related shortage. As of April 1, 2022, the centre has reduced capacity from 12 beds to six.

Registrant data from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta shows 140 doctors left the province in 2021, equal to the combined total that left in 2020 and 2019 (87 and 54 respectively). In 2021 Alberta saw a net increase of 45 doctors, more than three and a half times less the increase seen in 2020 and nearly 6 times less than in 2019.

The Alberta government announced an incentive plan in February to help recruit and retain rural and remote doctors. The Rural Education Supplement and Integrated Doctor Experience (RESIDE) program offers financial benefits of $60,000 for undergraduate tuition fee reimbursement, as well as a remote community incentive ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 for family physicians who agree to practice in rural and remote communities for three years.

Technology to support Indigenous-led language learning and education

The Manitoba government is providing $300,000 to train 45 Indigenous language speakers and 35 translators in the Dakota, Michif, Cree and Ojibway languages. A research proposal entirely in the nêhiyawewin (Cree language) from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work is also helping to push for nêhiyawewin speakers who can review proposals. The proposal is the second submission from the faculty to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); the first was rejected because of a lack of reviewers.

Technology can help support Indigenous-led education and language learning. Westin Sutherland, an Ojibway man from Peguis First Nation, instructs others in how to use visual media to learn Indigenous languages. Sutherland translates popular English media into Anishinaabemowin and is helping people in the North to do the same for their own languages. According to the CBC report on Sutherland, “the percentage of Indigenous people aged 15 and older who speak an Indigenous language has declined from 55 per cent in 1989 to 33 per cent in 2019.”

Indigenous artists from the Saulteau First Nation, Westbank First Nation, and Rainbow Tribe in B.C. have created an non-fungible token (NFT) collection called 400 Drums to help raise funds for a variety of Indigenous training programs and cultural projects, including Four Our Future’s training and employment programs. Read our previous brief for a refresh on what NFTs are and how they are used in the art world.

The Gordon Foundation and the Land Claims Agreements Coalition recently provided online treaty negotiation simulations for Indigenous 18-30-year-olds. The simulation allowed participants to negotiate “the education portion of a modern treaty from the perspectives of a Yukon First Nation, the territorial government and the federal government,” reports the Yukon News.

Global Competition for Talent

As countries face aging workforces and shortages in skilled labour domestically, the global competition for talent continues to rise. This section will monitor both what Western Canadian leaders are doing to attract and retain local, national and international talent as well as what our international competition is up to.

Tech talent pressures

Global AI and tech job finder Hired now includes ‘remote, work from anywhere jobs’ in its list of opportunities and filters. Time zone preference has also been added as a search option. The move demonstrates the pandemic-accelerated shift to remote work and the growing need for tech talent. Saskatchewan recently announced a Tech Talent Pathway, like Alberta’s tech talent immigration stream covered in a previous brief.

One solution to the talent crunch could be the U.K.’s High Potential Individual Visa (HPIV) says the Canadian Council of Innovators in a recent oped. The (HPIV) will allow those who have attended “a top global university” to enter the U.K. and look for work. The length of the VISA varied depending on level of education. A top global university is defined as those listed in at least two of the top 50 lists from Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds, or the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and McGill University all rank in the top 50 for at least two of these lists so graduates from those institutions could search for work in the U.K. A dependent partner and children are also allowed to join. Digital nomad visas could also help attract remote tech workers as CWF recommends in its latest report Work to Live: Alberta Youth Mobility.

Entrepreneurial attraction strategies for rural areas

As Alberta towns like Didsbury look to attract talent through Alberta Advantage Immigration Program’s rural entrepreneurship stream, other regions of the world could provide some insights. India has had success in terms of rural entrepreneurship, particularly in agri-tech, but demonstrates the need to ensure ties to the local community and local partnerships. Lack of capital can also be a barrier, so communities should ensure financial supports are available and that newcomers are made aware of the opportunities.

Energy sector could see workers leave on global scale

While this brief has previously looked at domestic challenges in attracting and retaining energy workers, the Global Energy Talent Index Report 2022 sheds light on how talent sees the sector globally. Sixty-one per cent of those surveyed said that a company’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance was a major factor in considering whether to move to or stay with a company. Seventy-seven per cent of those surveyed said they would consider leaving the sector entirely within the next three years with technology (30 per cent) and transport, logistics, and infrastructure (12 per cent) the top choices for where they would prefer to work. The report recommends upskilling and “fast-track career progression,” emphasizing ESG as part of branding, and incorporating innovations from other sectors as ways to help attract and retain talent.

Other news

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 .