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 .

Healthcare workers  

The latest StatsCan 2021 Census release on educational attainment shows that an additional 204,000 healthcare workers entered the field since 2016. Despite this growth, front-line workers remain in high demand. Cameron Westhead with United Nurses of Alberta told Global News that stress and desire for work-life balance are pushing nurses to explore other fields that use their expertise. Calgary-based Frida College is adding more cosmetic injectable courses as demand has surged from nurses looking to move into medical aesthetics, according to the Global report.  

A group of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in Alberta are calling for the province to reclassify their roles to more directly align with the roles and responsibilities of registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses to help attract and retain nurses.  

The Yukon government has announced a $6 million package of bonuses and incentives for government employed RNs, nurse practitioners and LPNs. The package was negotiated with the union and is intended to attract and retain talent within the territory.  

Red River College had zero applicants for its latest Advanced Care Paramedic program, which expands training for paramedics to provide emergency room support. There are few positions outside of Winnipeg so, in the past, those who wanted to make use of their credentials have often gone elsewhere.  

Job vacancies and credentials 

Census data show fewer Canadians entered skilled trades between 2016 and 2021, with only B.C., Man., Sask. and Que. seeing growth in construction trades. The November Labour Force Survey also shows that jobs in retail, which typically don’t require post-secondary education, still have high vacancy rates even as sector employment for those already within the sector holds steady. 

In a recent op-ed for the Globe and Mail, Canada West Foundation’s Janet Lane called for Canada “… to do a better job matching people with jobs and jobs with people”. Her recommendations include a system that first assesses people for their aptitudes, interests and competencies, then hires them into skilled and semi-skilled jobs that best fit their profiles. Employers, in collaboration with training providers, then offer on-the-job skills training that fill competency gaps before finally having trainees undergo a competency-based assessment and certification. 

Technology offers another solution. B.C.-based Sanctuary Cognitive Systems has received $30 million from the federal government to develop robots that can “take on tasks humans deemed too dangerous or physically exhausting,” Business in Vancouver reports.  

International cooperation to meet labour demands 

Saskatchewan recently completed a delegation to recruit healthcare workers which saw conditional offers made to 128 nurses and one continuing care aide. Saskatchewan could be short 2,000 healthcare workers by 2027, according to a recent report from the provincial Auditor General. Census data also highlighted that foreign credential recognition remains a challenge with 36.5% of foreign trained nurses and 41.1% of foreign trained doctors working in their chosen fields compared to 87.4% of Canadian trained nurses and 90.1% of doctors.  

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has signed a Memorandum of Understanding and set up an office with the Central Philippine University to facilitate collaboration between the two institutions. 

The federal government has expanded the International Experience Canada (IEC) program by 20% to allow employers to fill seasonal and front-line service positions. The Canada-Italy Youth Mobility Agreement recently came into effect, creating a pathway for young people who are travelling or young professionals to visit and work in either country. 

Inclusion of workers with disabilities  

B.C. announced a $2.5 million grant for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)’s employment program. The news release states that people with sight loss face systemic barriers which leads them to having unemployment three times higher than the national rate.  

The Alberta government is expanding its New Beginning’s Bursary for low-income learners to access post-secondary education. Red Deer Polytechnic will offer the Life and Employment Skills for Independence certificate, a year-long program for individuals with development disabilities. The program includes live-in residence, work-experience, and provide certifications such as First Aid and WHIMS. 

The federal government has established a Disability Inclusion Business Council to “increase accessibility and inclusion in Canadian businesses and workplaces,” according to the news release.   

Other news 

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