According to three recent studies, based on 2011 Census data from Statistics Canada (see Figure 1), predictions about the number of jobs threatened by automation range from 35 to 42 percent. The varying percentages result from di erent approaches to calculating the coming speed and pervasiveness of automation. Methodology aside, even at the low end of the range, the potential impact demands action.
Since we last wrote about the future of work (2012’s The lost decade, unsustainable prosperity or the northern tiger? Canada Works 20258), many of our predictions have come true. But we underestimated the pace of change.
Compared to previous technologies, which often took decades to become pervasive in the marketplace, the adoption of 21st- century technology is advancing at an exponential rate and shows no signs of slowing down.
Since 1997, Canada’s contingent workforce has grown from 4.8 million to 6.1 million.
It now accounts for about one-third of all jobs, and is likely to keep growing. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, more than 90 percent of jobs created in 2015 and 2016 were temporary positions—and paid, on average, over 30 percent less than permanent positions.
Even as these forces of change unfold before our eyes, most Canadians do not appear to feel much urgency about the future of work and its implications. There are several reasons that may explain this complacency:
• It won’t happen to me: Most media reports highlight the impact on automation in the manufacturing sector. For those outside these industries, it can be easy to conclude they won’t
• Fuzzy research: Canada is awash in a sea of numbers about predicted job losses. But this research provides little clarity about the real question on the minds of Canadian workers: What does it mean for me?
• Head in the sand: Constant headlines about major job disruptions due to automation create a sense of doom and gloom. This sense of inevitability creates inertia and distracts from the far more important question of how to devise the strategies Canada must develop to prepare for this future and turn it into an opportunity.
• Overwhelmed by the challenge:
The enormous number of technological advances we learn of on a daily basis makes it difficult to identify the transformative technologies that demand our attention from the transient ones that can be safely ignored.
• Never saw it coming: While some people are overwhelmed by the pace of change, others never see it coming. Or, by the time they do, it’s too late to adapt.
How can Canadian workers prepare for these changes? The best approach is based on building what we see as the
one universal future-proofed capability, a capability that is portable and transferable and that will pass the test of disruption: information-seeking. This universal capability is not simply the capacity to search for and find information, it is the capacity to make sense of what we find—to recognize opportunity and make decisions that lead to effective free agency.
Building on future-proofed capabilities, the heart of the report describes eight archetypes of jobs of the future, each supported by several critical capabilities and connected to both current and future jobs. These archetypes represent our effort to help Canadians prepare for the future by moving beyond the frustrating debate over which jobs might be lost to technology or how many employees may be displaced.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The intelligence revolution: future-proofing Canada’s workforce