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 .

As labour shortages persist around the world, this issue will focus on how Western Canadians and others are trying to find solutions. 

Oh, the places youth could go! 

The Canada West Foundation has partnered with Edmonton Global to release Oh, the places youth could go! The What Now? policy brief provides recommendations for governments, educators and employers to help attract and retain young people to Alberta. 

Sixteen-year high for global labour shortage 

A Randstad Sourceright survey reports two-thirds of Canadian employers plan to recruit extensively in the next year and that 30 per cent of “human capital leaders say talent scarcity is a major pain point.”  The issue of talent scarcity has reached a 16-year global high with 75 per cent of employers experiencing talent identification difficulties, up from 31 per cent in 2010. 

Canadian employers may want to look to Singapore’s rollout of automation and AI for possible solutions. Businesses are testing robots to help fill the gaps for a range of jobs from coffee service to construction.  

Complex solutions for a complex problem 

The Alberta Government announced $70 million for Edmonton and $85 million for Calgary post-secondary institutions to expand seats in high-demand programs such as medicine.  

Saskatchewan wants to increase its population by an additional 220,000 people and add 100,000 jobs by 2030. Immigration is a key component of Saskatchewan’s strategy and the government introduced legislation in April to support the initiative. The province will raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. The Saskatchewan government has also announced $532,000 for six-week hospitality and tourism training for the Indigenous community. Indigenous businesses in the province have grown with the Saskatchewan Indigenous Economic Development Network reporting 285 Indigenous-owned businesses in Saskatoon alone, up from 160 businesses in 2011. 

The Manitoba government tabled legislation that will let the government raise the minimum wage when “the inflation rate exceeds five per cent” according to a CBC report on the change. Manitoba currently has legislated annual minimum wage increases tied to inflation so the move would let the government adjust in periods of uncertainty. 

The federal government also announced $247 million for 25,000 apprenticeship positions with small and medium-sized employers. Approximately 700,000 retirements are expected from the skilled trades by 2028, according to a CTV article. 

B.C. businesses and post-secondaries adapt

As labour shortages continue to impact the western provinces, employers and educators are looking at ways to ease shortages and attract or retain labour. 

B.C. has one of the highest job vacancy rates in the country. CBC Radio One’s On the Coast’s newest segment, Hire Calling, takes a look at what is driving labour shortages and potential solutions. Warren Erhart, President and CEO of restaurant chain White Spot, says that pandemic impacts are still hitting the hospitality sector. Executive Chef James Kennedy says that people in the industry, much like those in other sectors, look for flexibility in shifts and work-life balance. Employees also want respectful work environments and employers who listen to their needs. Dean Dennis Innes, with Vancouver Community College, says that wage increases are part of the story but people new to the sector want growth opportunities and jobs that reflect their values. 

A recent panel of B.C. forestry representatives and post-secondary institutions discussed how the forestry industry needs to overcome its “image problem” to attract new workers. UBC’s Faculty of Forestry has rolled out a Bachelor of Urban Forestry degree and in 2023, pending Ministry approval, will begin a Bachelor of Indigenous Land Stewardship degree program. 

B.C. Ferries offers hiring bonuses of $5,000 to $10,000 for “referrals, new hires, returning ex-employees, or those who delay retirement” with “in-demand certifications,” Global News reports. 

The U.K. has launched the world’s largest four-day work week trial. The six-month pilot will test whether a shortened work week is a viable solution for both workplace flexibility and burnout. 

Broadband developments

Virtual work is key to flexible work opportunities but not all employers are able to compete for remote talent as they lack stable, broadband Internet access. Broadband infrastructure projects create jobs, but this sector also needs employees.  

The federal government and Western Canada’s provincial governments have announced additional funds to increase regional access to broadband. The B.C. and federal governments partnered to invest $830 million to provide an additional 14,000 homes with high-speed Internet. TELUS plans to invest $17.5 billion to develop B.C.’s network and create 5,500 new jobs by 2026.  A similar project is planned for Alberta with TELUS investing $17 billion and generating 8,500 new jobs by 2026. SaskTel plans to spend $1.4 billion on Saskatchewan’s 5G network over the next five years. Manitoba has partnered with Xplornet to provide 125,000 Manitobans with reliable high-speed Internet. A group of 13 Yukon First Nation development corporations acquired the Yukon’s fibre-to-the-home assets. These assets are in development to provide every community in the NWT and Yukon with high- speed Internet over the next three years. 

Global healthcare shortage 

Healthcare labour shortages have provinces rolling out temporary stop gaps.  B.C.’s Interior Health regional authority closed Clearwater hospital for a short time due to staff shortages. Alberta has hired costly contract travel nurses. Saskatchewan doctors asked for bedroom communities to be reclassified so that they can attract and retain medical staff like cities and rural communities. The Manitoba government has declared a state of emergency in rural Manitoba 

Canada is not unique as a recent study found that 43 million additional healthcare workers are needed around the world to meet universal healthcare targets. Australia is the world leader in doctor and nurse immigration with over half of the country’s doctors and one third of nurses coming from other countries. Meanwhile in 2019, a quarter of healthcare workers in Germany had an immigrant background and estimates are that the number grew over the pandemic. See this article from our February Brief about how Canada’s accreditation system hurts our capacity to compete in the global competition for healthcare professionals. There is an urgent need for long-term solutions.

The Future of Work & Learning Brief is compiled by Stephany Laverty, Janet Lane, Justin Rodych and Connor Watrych. If you like what you see, subscribe to our mailing list and share with a friend. If you have interesting stories for future editions, please send them to .