The future of work is changing – and ensuring all Canadians, specifically young Canadian talent are ready for these changes when entering the workforce was a key topic of discussion at Future Workforce conference. Future Workforcewas a gathering of “professionals who want to better understand how the world of work is changing and what leading employers and educational institutions are doing to seize emerging opportunities”.
In a time of unprecedented change and disruption to the very nature of work as we know it, industry, employers and post-secondary institutions need to work together to help prepare young Canadian talent for these changes, and equip them with the skills needed to thrive in the future of work.
The “Future Workforce: The Challenges & Opportunities for Industry” panel moderated by Magnet’s Executive Director Mark Patterson, brought together: Jean-Pierre (JP) Giroux President, Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium(EMC); Stephen Harrington, National Lead – Workforce Strategy, Deliotte; and Wendy Cukier founder of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute. The conversation explored the challenges and opportunities for industry, employers and post-secondary institutions are facing in developing the Future Workforce. Throughout the discussion, the expert panel outlined key trends to be taken to ensure success in the future of work.
With the future of work changing, it is important to re-evaluate the way we view jobs. In the past, we were in an era of being lucky to have a job, but we must begin to think of employment differently: ‘does anyone actually want this job’? explained Stephen Harrington. With more jobs being aided by technology, it is vital to start making the jobs we do have more human focussed so that people want them. While it can be scary looking into the future of work, a way to approach the changes of the future is to automate the less appealing work so people want the jobs available, and organizations can remain competitive.
It is important to equip students and recent grads with the proper skills to succeed in the ever-changing future. However, Dr. Wendy Cukier, also stresses the importance of ‘building systems, programs and approaches that are far more adaptive to change’. In doing this, we ensure that as a society, we are prepared to adapt to different scenarios of change, while producing graduates that are adaptive, with basic skills and competencies that will help them adjust to what the future holds.
Small and medium-sized enterprises make up a majority of total businesses in Canada. Now more than ever before, it is important to include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) when creating processes around work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities for students. For SMEs the overheard to manage a student is much bigger than larger employers and many times the human resources capacity at SMEs is limited. By creating standard processes and re-evaluating the WIL format with SMEs in mind we ensure we are not excluding a major market of Canadian employers. Their involvement is particularly critical, as the SME category includes a growing number of start-ups arising from innovation and entrepreneurial activities.
As Dr. Wendy Cukier stressed it is vital to acknowledge that all workforce growth that will be seen in the future is going to come through immigration. Diversity and inclusion is baked into Canada’s DNA as a country. However, there is a far greater opportunity for Canada to get everything right around diversity and inclusion as a country. “We need to look a new innovative ways to build on individuals’ special strength” says Dr. Wendy Cukier, to help us integrate newcomers and diverse individuals into our workforce.
Canada has one of the most educated workforces in the world, and we need to ensure we are preparing our young talent from all levels with the skills and knowledge to thrive in the future of work. “We need better connection between industry with post-secondary institutions, but not just post-secondary, also high schools and elementary schools to educate students and create awareness around opportunities” explained JP Giroux regarding EMC’s strategy to help prepare students for the future. With work-integrated learning opportunities being on the rise, it is important to start equipping our young talent with the skills, knowledge and competencies needed for success with the ever-changing workforce.
While the future of work remains uncertain, there are steps we can take now to help ensure Canadians are prosperous in uncertain times of the future.
Magnet provides the digital infrastructure for Canada’s Future Skills Centre, a forward-thinking research centre with a focus on how to best prepare Canadians today for workforce opportunities of the future.