This sounds like a doomsday forecast. And it might be.
Because it isn’t just jobs in the manufacturing sector which are going to disappear. High-income, skilled jobs, the ones you need a post-secondary education for, like doctors, lawyers and engineers will eventually be on the chopping block.
The report says that the country faces the loss of up to 7.5 million jobs as a result of automation in the next 10 to 15 years.
If you’ve been paying attention to the internet this week, you may have found yourself hopeful over the news that the Canadian economy is experiencing growth. Our GDP has grown by 3.5 as of the third quarter of 2016—mostly thanks to more opportunities in well-paying commercial service jobs. You know, the ones you go to school for.
Except many of those jobs are about to become obsolete.
What you probably didn’t read about was a new report by Sunil Johal and Jordann Thirgood of the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance. The report says that the country faces the loss of up to 7.5 million jobs as a result of automation in the next 10 to 15 years.
Even though 1.5 to 7.5 million is an incredibly broad range, this would still present a major shift in the Canadian job market, and students should be particularly concerned.
. The study projects that the number of jobs lost could be between 1.5 million to 7.5 million. That’s between 8.3 and 41% of the 18 million jobs which currently exist in Canada.
. Even high-income jobs will not be safe, as automation will reduce the demand for doctors, lawyers and engineers, among others.
. Over 80% of working Canadians are employed in commercial services. Less than 20% are in the goods production sector.
No pressure, but the economy, in general, is depending on the kind of jobs students go to school to learn how to do.
“Since the onset of the global financial crisis, growth in Canada’s service sector has been stronger on average than in the goods sector,” said Bank of Canada’s governor Stephen Poloz in a statement. “Most of the employment growth seen in Canada since late 2014 has been in service industries that pay above-average wages, helping to support national income.”
…Canada’s social policies and programs are “woefully inadequate” to deal with this kind of extreme change to the job market.
Poloz has also said, “I strongly believe that the continued expansion of our service sector is pointing the way toward full economic recovery and the return of sustained, natural growth.” in references to Canada’s recovery from the 2008 financial crash. But the U of T report states that Canada’s social policies and programs are “woefully inadequate” to deal with this kind of extreme change to the job market.
The worry is that our current system, combined with increasing levels of automation is, “creating a growing number of workers with little or no attachment to Canada’s social architecture,” according to the report.
Meaning that the skills being learned but students, grads and current workers are worryingly unadaptable to a rapidly changing economy.
We’re going to be following up on this. We’ll be investigating how post-secondary institutions will be responding, and how they plan to prepare students for a drastically shifting job market.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.