Canadian Manufacturing

Half of Canadian jobs will be disrupted by automation: RBC report

Four million Canadian youth entering the workforce over the next decade will be unprepared for the rapidly changing workplace, and that's really bad news


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TORONTO—New research from RBC Economics forecasts that half of all jobs in Canada will be disrupted by automation in the next 10 years.

While that is bad news for many working Canadians, it’s a far worse predicament for millions of Canadian youth who will be transitioning from education to employment during that time.

The research paper, Humans Wanted – How Canadian youth can thrive in the age of disruption, says Canada’s Generation Mobile—the four million Canadian youth entering the workforce over the next decade— are unprepared for the rapidly changing workplace.

“Canada is at an historic crossroads. We have the largest generation of young people coming into the workforce at the very same time technology is starting to impact most jobs in the country,” said Dave McKay, president and CEO at RBC. “Canada is on the brink of a skills revolution and we have a responsibility to prepare young people for the opportunities and ambiguities of the future.”

The research suggests Canada is shifting from a jobs economy to a skills economy, and young people will need a portfolio of “human skills” to remain competitive and resilient in the future labour market.

“There is a changing demand for skills,” said John Stackhouse, senior vice-president, RBC. “According to our findings, if employers and the next generation of employees focus on foundational ‘human skills’, they’ll be better able to navigate a new age of career mobility as technology continues to reshape every aspect of the world around us.”

Key Findings
The study predicts Canada’s economy is on target to add 2.4 million jobs over the next four years, virtually all of which will require a different mix of so-called human skills, such as: critical thinking, co-ordination, social perceptiveness, active listening and complex problem solving. And while Canada shouldn’t simply train a nation of coders, digital literacy—the ability to understand digital items, digital technologies or the Internet fluently—will be necessary for all new jobs.

The report says Canada’s education system, training programs and labour market initiatives are inadequately designed to guide Canadian youth through the new skills economy, resulting in roughly 500,000 unemployed 15-29 year olds and another quarter of a million people forced into part-time employment.

“As digital and machine technology advances, the next generation of Canadians will need to be more adaptive, creative and collaborative, adding and refining skills to keep pace with a world of work undergoing profound change,” said McKay.

Top recommendations

  • A national review of post-secondary education programs to assess their focus on “human skills” including global competencies
  • A national target of 100% work-integrated learning, to ensure every undergraduate student has the opportunity for an apprenticeship, internship, co-op placement or other meaningful experiential placement
  • Standardization of labour market information across all provinces and regions, and a partnership with the private sector to move skills and jobs information to real-time, interactive platforms
  • The introduction of a national initiative to help employers measure foundational skills and incorporate them in recruiting, hiring and training practices
  • Click here to read the full report Humans Wanted – How Canadian youth can thrive in the age of disruption.


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