As the way we live changes, so does the way we work.
In envisioning the careers of 2030, we asked ourselves what major forces would drive change in how and where we work over the next two decades. We also thought about what industries and sectors might be most impacted by these changes, and what those changes might look like. These sources of change could either be societal or natural.
The sources of change we considered when envisioning the careers of 2030 were:
Aging and Demographic Changes
Populations all over the world are aging, and Canada is no exception. As Statistics Canada reports, birth rates are declining while people are living longer. By 2030, Canada will have more people over the age of 65 than ever before.
As a result, Canada’s workforce will shrink and we will spend a lot of time and money caring for Canadian seniors, in both public settings and at home. We imagined jobs that met these new needs, especially in the healthcare sector. The declining workforce and need for increased productivity may lead to more automation. As the real number of workers drops, technology will likely displace some of the workforce. Solving the problem of a smaller workforce with more automation and dependence on technology will have major impacts, especially in the area of immigration and human migration.
By 2030, Canada will have more people over the age of 65 than ever before.
Climate Change and Energy
The future of work in Canada is tied to both the future of energy and of the climate. On one hand, Canada’s oil sands and natural gas operations have maintained the country’s position as an energy powerhouse. On the other hand, the impact of climate change and the diminishing supply of non-renewable resources will increase the appeal of any environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels. In the future, it is the renewable energy market—generating power from water, sun, and wind—that will sustain Canada’s role as an energy leader.
Immigration and the Borderless World
Canada’s population growth rate has declined since the 1950s. Today the country’s birth rate is 1.63 children per woman, well below even the rate of 2.1 that is needed to maintain current population numbers. Immigration will continue to be the largest source of growth in Canada’s population. As a result, in 2030 Canada’s cultural mosaic will be even more complex and colourful than it is today. This diversity may give us a major advantage in the “project economy”, where goods can be designed and manufactured by teams that are spread across the entire globe.
Inviting young professionals to work and live in Canada may make up for our rapidly aging population, but it will also create new needs for everything from better cultural understandings of foreign countries to improved newcomer services. Learning foreign languages and embracing cultural diversity may create significant advantages in the job market of 2030.
Canadians are increasingly living in urban areas. Today, four out of five of us live in a city. Even so, a major outcome of climate change could be the mass migration of people both within North America and beyond. In Canada, climate change will reshape the North. As the North becomes more accessible and livable, Canadians may choose to settle there, especially where resource extraction and energy operations take root.
Automation and information technologies may make some jobs obsolete, but they may make jobs more efficient and enjoyable. Social network skills may well grow into career-track positions in organizations. If the current trend for having multiple careers over one’s lifetime continues, people may come to rely more on their expanded social networks to discover and take advantage of new work opportunities.
As our ability to use information increases, big data could affect everything from online shopping to healthcare.
‘Big data’ applications use information technologies to make sense of mountains of data. As our ability to use information increases, big data could affect everything from online shopping to healthcare. The need to make sense of large amounts of data creates demand for people with skills in information management, data visualization, and the buying and selling of gathered information.
“Mass customization” is changing the economy. This trend now has only affected services and some consumer goods so far, but it will soon accelerate and affect other sectors. One place where mass customization could have a major impact is healthcare, where the 20th-century model of hospitals as “health factories” may give way to a flexible system of local clinics, health-tracking sportswear and individually customized nutriceutical (nutrition and pharmaceutical) drinks and foods. Opportunities will be abound in the extreme individualization of services and products.
Security and Stability
Our security and stability needs are increasingly conflicting with our privacy and freedom. Over the next two decades, expect our priorities to swing back and forth as people and nations compromise on these issues. Privacy concerns will make us think harder about what information to put online. For instance, we might use software or professional services to secure and carefully manage our online information.
The conflict between surveillance and privacy will be important nationally as well, though we will need to be careful to balance these concerns with the need to grow our workforce and invite global talent to Canada. Sorting through these issues will take keen-minded professionals working on all fronts, from legal services, to software and policy development, to law enforcement.
Scientific and Technical Advancements
New advances in science and technology could simplify many of today’s routines that require human input and maintenance, even tasking them to robots.
While it’s quite difficult to imagine the future of science, we should expect that new scientific discoveries will affect many of the jobs we are familiar with today. New advances in science and technology could simplify many of today’s routines that require human input and maintenance, even tasking them to robots.
Canada has long been a leader in life sciences research, and we should expect that the discoveries made in Canadian labs over the next decade will lead to the creation of new jobs and expansion of existing roles. For instance, the growing understanding of the connection between gut bacteria and human health may create new jobs for people who can work closely with dieticians and doctors. And new technical ways to produce goods—especially 3D printing—might affect everything from traditionally mass-marketed products, such as cars and electronics, to healthcare through innovations such as 3D-printed organs.