Backgrounder: Future Skills


Changing demands of the workplace

Canada is home to a well-educated and highly skilled workforce, but rapid technological change and globalization are accelerating the need to learn and develop new skills. As the demands of the workplace change, so too must the skills that workers bring to their jobs. The Government of Canada is taking action to ensure that both employers and governments are more responsive to workers’ needs.

Future Skills

New and emerging technologies have an effect on every aspect of Canadians’ lives, including the workplace. Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are a few examples of technologies that are part of the changing nature of work. The Future Skills initiative aims to help Canadians improve their skills to better prepare for, get and keep jobs, and to adapt and succeed at work.

Future Skills includes:

  • the Future Skills Centre
  • the Future Skills Council

Future Skills will:

  • examine major trends that will have an impact on national and regional economies and workers;
  • identify emerging skills that are in demand now and into the future that may impact people’s education and training decisions;
  • develop, test and evaluate innovative approaches to help Canadians gain the skills they need to adapt and succeed in the workforce; and
  • share results and best practices with governments, the private sector, labour, educational and training institutions, not-for-profit organizations, academics and subject matter experts to support broader adoption of innovative approaches across Canada.

The Future Skills Council will complement existing efforts, such as the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) which was established in April 2017 following an endorsement by the Forum of Labour Market Ministers. The LMIC works to identify and implement pan-Canadian priorities for the collection, analysis and distribution of labour market information.

Other measures by the federal government to improve job training in Canada and to help unemployed workers get training include:

Workforce Development Agreements

The new Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) consolidate the Canada Job Fund Agreements, the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities and the former Targeted Initiative for Older Workers. In addition to the $722 million provided annually to provinces and territories under the WDAs, Budget 2017 added $900 million  over a period of six years from 2017–18 to 2022–23.The new funding will also support provincial and territorial employment programming for older workers, which was previously supported by the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers.

Through these agreements, the Government is providing Canadians with more opportunities to upgrade their skills, gain experience or get help to start their own business. The agreements also mean more support, such as employment counselling, to help Canadians plan their careers.

Labour Market Development Agreements

Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) are bilateral agreements with each province and territory to design and deliver employment programming similar to Employment Benefits and Support Measures outlined in Part II of the Employment Insurance Act. LMDAs help unemployed Canadians quickly find and return to work. They also ensure a skilled labour force that meets current and emerging needs of employers.

Budget 2017 measures to expand eligibility to help more Canadians access skills training and employment assistance under the amended LMDAs include:

  • investing an additional $1.8 billion in LMDAs over six years;
  • broadening eligibility for Employment Benefits (e.g. skills training, wage subsidies) to include unemployed individuals who have made minimum Employment Insurance premium contributions in at least 5 of the last 10 years;
  • expanding eligibility for Employment Assistance Services (e.g. employment counselling, job search assistance), currently available to unemployed Canadians, to also include employed Canadians; and
  • increasing flexibility for provinces and territories to support employer-sponsored training under Labour Market Partnerships (e.g. to help employers who need to upskill or retrain their workers in order to adjust to technological or structural changes in the economy).

These agreements represent an increase in funding of over $2.7 million over the period, compared to previous funding levels. This increase means an estimated 730,000 more workers will benefit over the six years.

More recently, in Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced an additional $80 million in 2018–19 and $150 million in 2019–20 to work with key provinces to find local solutions to help support seasonal workers in the off-season.

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