It’s a generally accepted fact that the job market will look radically different even three years from now. Let alone in decade or more. This pattern of drastic change is evident when looking back just five years ago. The career landscape has morphed in every aspect, from highly sought skill-sets to new jobs that once didn’t exist. This will only become more obvious in the coming years due to the emphasis on technological development. As technology advances, jobs that were once necessary no longer continue to be so, while new positions open up in order to facilitate the research and creation of these new systems and programs. These are positions that at one time sounded futuristic; positions like a robotics technician or PLC programmer (programmable logic controller). One of the most talked about and unavoidable areas of this kind of tech development is automation.
Simply put, automation is “automatic equipment programmed in a system to aid in manufacturing and production.” For instance, it’s how automobiles are now built, having replaced the traditional assembly line which once reigned king. Automation is a more efficient method of production and requires highly skilled electromechanical technicians, amongst others, to design the machinery.
All this begs the question about what this means for Canada’s job market. The first clues of what to expect comes from south of our border. While the Trump administration has remained tight-lipped on their stance of the tech industry’s advancement and held off from forming public relationships with Silicone Valley, members of his Strategic and Policy Forum have not. The forum is a coalition of business executives who will advise Trump on economic issues and job creation. He had initially included start-ups like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and General Motors CEO Mary Barra. They are the real indication of what to expect for the automotive industry future. They are diving headfirst into automation. GM has invested millions automation jobs, and are in the process of building a fleet of self-driven automobiles for the company. This would ultimately displace human drivers if the program proves successful. IBM on the other hand, is working to develop artificial intelligence that could be used in medicine to improve complicated tests like cancer screenings. The goal of this kind of automation is to become more effective than their human counter-parts so that they can save more lives and improve public health. Needless to say, the professionals and technicians who currently do this work, would be replaced.
Meanwhile in Canada the head of the government’s economic growth advisory council says governments must find methods to confront future job loss and the income inequity that it will create. This is something that will continue to grow as technology renders more and more jobs irrelevant. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agrees that around forty per cent of existing Canadian jobs will disappear as automation grows across many different industries, but will take a proactive approach. The government will have to figure out how to handle these displaced older workers with outdated skill sets, while the younger generations will have to work to update their knowledge base and skills. Whether this will be done through online technology courses or through continuing education, it will be a fact of life for many young Canadians. Luckily there are numerous resources for individuals looking to increase their skills, like institutions such as George Brown offering a Certificate of Completion for studying some of these technological developments.
While the thought of changes in the job market faced in the near future can be intimidating it’s important to know that this does not mean that there will not be no jobs available, only that the positions will be different than the ones available now. Instead of humans being used directly in the process of places like manufacturing, they will be “behind the scenes,” developing, maintaining and improving the learning management technology systems in question. They will have to continue to update their knowledge of the machinery as it becomes more efficient and complex. People with these skills will be sought out. There will be jobs available over the next few years that don’t even exist right now, and people will have to continue adapt to the changing technologies of the time through education just as they always have.
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