Job market trends to be aware of


The future of America is driverless

In his final months on the job, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has been vocal about the pressing need to repair America’s broken infrastructure, and all the ways in which technology will fundamentally change the way we move. With 55,000 employees and a budget of over $70 billion, the Department of Transportation is a massive enterprise responsible for regulating American air, maritime, and surface transportation spaces. But the organization’s directives can have far-reaching implications: the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 established the modern freeway system, which divided communities but also redefined how Americans traveled long distances. In September 2016, the DoT released a landmark autonomous vehicles policy that will speed up the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles: self-driving cars, the report asserted, will save lives and make transportation both more efficient and accessible. The policy sets forth rules for manufacturing and sales of autonomous vehicles, requires companies to share research data with federal regulators, and promotes protection for passenger privacy. Foxx’s vision for US transportation also includes high-speed rail, GPS tracking systems for airplanes, and drones that will replace trucks to deliver goods to your doorstep.

Read full report


Oilsands workers worry driverless trucks will haul away their jobs

At the Suncor oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, drivers and heavy equipment operators nervously watch as massive trucks rumble by with no one behind the wheel.

With each passing truck, workers can imagine their jobs slipping away.

"Trucks don't get pensions, they don't take vacations, it's purely dollars and cents," said Ken Smith, president UNIFOR 707A in Fort McMurray.

Canada's largest private-sector union, UNIFOR represents 3,400 employees at Suncor and considers the emergence of the automated haulage system, or AHS, a greater threat than any economic downturn in the oilpatch.

The use of driverless trucks is part of a year-long pilot project by Suncor.

Each autonomous truck represents an estimated loss of five jobs, said Smith, who predicts the technology being tested today will put 1,000 workers, some 30 per cent of the workforce, on the unemployment line. And that's just at the main Suncor mine. There are several other massive mines in the region.

The AHS trucks are being used in an isolated section of the Suncor mine site.

Suncor has contracted the trucks and technology from Komatsu, a Japanese company that is a world leader in AHS. According to information on its website, Komatsu specializes in construction and mining equipment, and first introduced a commercial AHS in 2008.


What happens to construction jobs when robots start building

By 2034/35, almost 20% of Australians (6.2 million) are projected to be aged 65 or over.

One sector already feeling the impact of the ageing population is construction.

In Queensland, the number of construction workers aged 55 and over increased from 8% of full-time workers in 1992 to 14.2% in 2014.

An ageing workforce is likely to increase the need for less physically demanding jobs or maybe technology might address this issue.

Task automation and the industry’s innovation culture are two of the greatest areas of uncertainty for the construction industry.

A new study that developed evidence based scenarios for 2036, depicts how automation and manufacturing could grow in the construction sector, creating more knowledge intensive jobs as a result.

The study explores future technology that eliminates dangerous and difficult tasks, particularly in light of the ageing workforce.

Experts in the industry were asked the extent to which technology would progress and how many or which tasks could be automated.

There was no consensus on this and the other point of contention between the interviewees was how bold the industry would be in its pursuit of new solutions.

The research did suggest the construction workforce will need a broad understanding of digital applications, in addition to traditional project management and communication skills.


The trends analysis and scenario development in the report produced some examples of possible construction industry jobs in the year 2036, including:

Building assembly technician: Someone who oversees robotic systems and examines data feeds throughout the life of a project.

This worker would optimise workflows and make adjustments on real time feedback from clients about design or changes to materials.

Virtual/augmented reality trainers: Breakthroughs in virtual and augmented reality technology could provide low-cost immersive environments where apprentices and trainers can meet virtually in any training situation, such as worksite, factory, design studio – the possibilities are endless.

Building drone operators: These professionals would control and program drones to carry out complex tasks such as site inspections, deliveries and maintenance.

Robot resource manager: Robots in the workplace will need someone to take care of commissioning, software programming, maintenance and re-purposing or recycling of robotic parts.

Keeping track of this exploding field of technology will be a key challenge for the role.

more details from CNBC article

Obsolete jobs - USA

According to the following jobs are on the decline. Some are expected while a few are surprising.

10. Seamstress/tailor

9. Insurance underwriter

8. Drill-press operator

7. Flight attendant

6. Logging worker

5. Jeweler

4. Newspaper reporter

3. Farmer

2. Meter reader

1. Mail carrier

These are more obsolete jobs (in no particular order) from a Forbes list.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics these occupations are expected to massively decline between 2010 and 2020:

  • Computer operators
  • Data entry keyers
  • Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers
  • Fast food cooks
  • File clerks
  • Florists
  • Food service managers
  • Loan interviewers and clerks
  • News and street vendors
  • Office machine operators
  • Petroleum pump operators, refinery operators, gaugers
  • Prepress technicians and workers
  • Pressers (textile, garment)
  • Switchboard operators
  • Word processors and typists

Obsolete jobs - Canada

According to a June 2016 study by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

Overall we found that nearly 42 percent of the Canadian labour force is at a high risk of being affected by automation in the next decade or two. We also discovered that major job restructuring will likely occur as a result of new technology. Using a different methodology, we found that 42 percent of the tasks that Canadians are currently paid to do can be automated using existing technology.

If your job falls within a certain category, it’s possible that advances in artificial intelligence and advanced robotics could make it obsolete.

"We don't believe that all of these jobs will be lost," said Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute, in a release. "Many will be restructured, and new jobs will be created as the nature of occupations change due to the impact of technology and computerization."

“At 42%, if even a portion of that came to be true over the next 10 to 20 years, that would be a huge disruption to Canada’s workforce over a reality short period of time. What’s also interesting is that there is quite a sharp divide between the skills needed for occupations that are at a high-risk of automation, and those at a low risk.”

High-risk occupations included retail sales people (with a 92% chance of automation), administrative assistants (96%), food counter attendants (91.5%), cashiers (97%) and transport truck drivers (79%).

Conversely, 36% of Canada’s employed labour force falls into the low-risk category, including registered nurses, elementary teachers, early childhood educators, and secondary school teachers—all of which fall within a less than 1% chance of automation.

“If you look at the characteristics of the high and low risk jobs, some things immediately stand out,” says Mullin. “When it comes to low-risk occupations, the level of educational attainment is three-times the level of the high-risk ones—that’s three-times more likely to have a post secondary degree. The average salary of jobs in the low-risk category is also almost double that of the high-risk,” he explains.

On a provincial basis, Ontario has the lowest proportion — 41.1 per cent — of jobs at high risk of automation, while P.E.I. has the highest with over 45 per cent of jobs at high risk of automation over the next 10 to 20 years.

The institute also said workers in the jobs deemed at high risk in the study are disproportionately between 15 and 24 years, while workers in lower risk jobs tend to be "prime-aged workers," between 25 and 54.

"Canada's younger and, to a lesser extent, older populations are more likely to be vulnerable to the effects of automation," the study said.

Read full report

Precarious employment - Worldwide

The International Labor Organization flagship report, World Employment and Social Outlook 2015, representing 84 per cent of the global workforce, highlighted the lacklustre job creation that continues to plague the world economy and drew attention to the need to address the global jobs gap by bolstering aggregate demand and enterprise investment.

A newer report entitled The Changing Nature of Jobs, brings to the fore a number of trends that underlie the transformations that the labour market is experiencing. It shows that only one quarter of workers worldwide is estimated to have a stable employment relationship, meaning that three quarters of workers are employed on temporary or short-term contracts, in informal jobs often without any contract, under own-account arrangements or in unpaid family jobs, the report’s findings show. It also notes that women are disproportionately represented among those in temporary and part-time forms of wage and salaried employment.

At a time when the global economy is not creating a sufficient number of jobs, the study reports that more than 60 per cent of all workers lack any kind of employment contract, with most of them engaged in ‘own-account work’ or contributing family work in the developing world.

“Even among wage and salaried workers, less than half (42 percent) are working on a permanent contract,” it said.

The report also found that income inequality is increasing or remains high in the majority of countries – a trend that is aggravated by the rising incidence of non-permanent forms of employment, growing unemployment and inactivity.

Read full report

Precarious employment - Canada

The Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau made a statement at a federal party meeting in October 2016 that Canadians should get used to so-called "job churn" — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person's life.

And when asked about precarious employment Mr. Morneau told delegates that high employee turnover and short-term contract work will continue in young people's lives, and the government has to focus on preparing for it.

"We also need to think about, 'How do we train and retrain people as they move from job to job to job?' Because it's going to happen. We have to accept that," Morneau said during a question-and-answer session.

2013 findings

Precarious employment is here to stay, a new study shows, and Toronto’s new economic reality impacts everyone from the working poor to the middle class.

The research confirms United Way and McMaster University’s groundbreaking 2013 findings that fewer than half of workers in the GTA and Hamilton are in permanent, full-time jobs.

Instead, about 52 per cent of workers are in temporary, contract, or part-time positions.

The report, entitled “The Precarity Penalty,” warns that without such action, precarious work will “not only affect the ability of people to build stable and fulfilling lives, but it will threaten our region’s capacity to develop a competitive workforce.”

That’s because workers in short-term, insecure employment are getting less and less access to on-the-job training that could help build a career.

One of the study’s notable findings is that white women were the only group to see a decline in precarious employment. The percentage of white women in secure employment has increased by 12 per cent since 2013, and the percentage in precarious employment dropped by 9 per cent.

Meanwhile, the percentage of men in secure employment has dropped by 10 per cent, and their share of precarious employment has jumped by 19 per cent.

The trend is at least in part due to the decline in secure and traditionally male-dominated manufacturing jobs. Women are more likely to be concentrated in public sector jobs such as education and health care, which tend to be more secure.

The research surveyed 4,193 workers in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area ages 25 to 65. It seeks to expand on Statistics Canada data, which only measures temporary employment and self-employment rather than other measures of precarious work such as uncertain work schedules and irregular earnings.

While the impact of precarious work hits low-wage workers the hardest, the report confirms that the consequences reach across the income spectrum.

Middle-income earners in precarious work, for example, reported feeling greater anxiety about family life, their debt obligations and maintaining their standard of living than even low-income workers with secure jobs.

Some 48 per cent of low-wage, insecure workers and 36 per cent of middle-income, insecure workers said their employment negatively affected their family life. Meanwhile, just 30 per cent of low-income workers with stable employment said their jobs interfered with life at home.

Almost 37 per cent of the area’s most vulnerable workers also reported experiencing poor mental health, compared to just 20 per cent of those in secure jobs.

The report suggests a variety of solutions to tackle the city’s increasingly insecure job landscape, and to mitigate its impact on communities and families.

These include improving training for precarious workers, updating the Employment Standards Act to include provisions such as fair scheduling and building a high-quality, affordable child-care system.

more details from CareerBuilder article

Semi retirement - USA

According to CareerBuilder’s 2015 annual retirement survey, the number of workers age 60 or older currently delaying retirement reached a post-recession low of 53 percent. This number is down from 58 percent last year and 66 percent in 2010.

The nationwide survey was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from November 4 to December 2, 2014, among a representative sample of 438 full-time workers (age 60+) and 2,192 hiring and human resources managers.

“As household financial situations continue to rebound from the recession, economic confidence among senior workers is significantly improving,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “Reaching retirement, however, is proving to be a challenge for millions. Fortunately, for those workers needing a new job near the end of their careers, employers are hiring seniors at a faster rate than we’ve seen in recent memory.”

Other Key Findings

  • Retirement still far off or unlikely for many.

75 percent of workers age 60 or older currently delaying retirement cite the recession as a cause. Twelve percent don’t think they will ever be able to retire – up slightly from 11 percent last year – and nearly half (49 percent) feel retirement is at least 5 years out.

  • More than half of workers plan to work post-retirement.

Fifty-four percent of senior workers (age 60+) say they’ll work after retiring from their current career – up from 45 percent last year. Of this group, 81 percent say they’ll most likely work part-time, while 19 percent plan to continue working full-time. Customer service, retail and consulting are the three most common jobs these workers plan to pursue.

Meanwhile, one in six workers age 60 or older say they are taking this time in their life to pursue a dream job or passion project.

Semi retirement - Canada

Seniors are living longer and are forced to work into their retirement age.

According to Statistics Canada, in 1997 the employment rate for men 55 or over was 30.5% but by 2010 had climbed to 39.4%. During the same period employment for women 55 and over climbed from 15.8% to 28.6%.

The federal agency says that since 2004 the average retirement age has remained steady at 62 but warns we need to brace ourselves as the Baby Boomers continue to reach retirement.

“The gradual entry of the sizeable Boomer generation in the 50-and-over group may have a large impact on the average retirement age,” says a fall, 2011 report from StatsCan called Delayed retirement: A new trend?

There are several companies, web sites and services popping up that cater strictly to seniors. ThirdQuarter, for example, has offices in 14 Canadian communities to match seniors with paying and volunteer jobs.

But even the mainstream employment agencies say seniors are an increasing part of their business. Byrne Luft, vice-president of operations of Manpower Staffing Services Ltd., says he’s seen the change up close.

“There is drive to it partly from their investment or savings perspective, “ says Mr. Luft, adding the last recession changed many retirement plans as stock values plummeted. “A lot are working out of necessity.”

It also helps that there is strong demand for their labor.

“This a great demographic for companies like ours. We can provide good service for the client finding the talented experienced people during the time frame they are needed for. The candidate, or Baby Boomer who wants to work and not much, it works for them as well,” says Mr. Luft.

He says seniors are filling a gap for what is called “contingent labor” which is used by industry because it matches the flexibility of the business cycle.

“It allows them to augment their permanent work force to address any obvious work volumes, that’s the primary benefit,” says Mr. Luft, adding he doesn’t think the older workforce is taking jobs from younger people because there is a “skills gap” that needs to be filled.

Craig Alexander, the chief economist with Toronto-Dominion Bank, says the trend of seniors staying in the workforce will continue. “I definitely think we will continue to see the labor force participation rate of older Canadians continue to raise. We will see an increase in part-time employment and self employment among Canadians 65 and older,” says Mr. Alexander. “It’s a reflection of some Canadians being unable to afford to retire at 65. But it’s also known older Canadians are being drawn into consulting because either their employer or the sector in which they work needs to draw on their experience.”


Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Statistic Canada

UN News Centre

More by this Author

Comments 3 comments

threekeys profile image

threekeys 4 months ago from Australia

I may just stay tuned tranquilheart because you may write another captivating article within this area.

Tranquilheart profile image

Tranquilheart 4 months ago from Canada Author

Hi threekeys, wow, those are very interesting questions. I don't think I have the answers though. All I see is that we are undergoing a time of change. Mainly because of baby boomers activity: aging, retiring and passing. They have been a huge influence on lifestyle worldwide due to their numbers and affluence. Unfortunately that's all I have. You should be able to get some answers by doing an online search. Thanks for reading and giving your feedback.

threekeys profile image

threekeys 4 months ago from Australia

Hi tranquilheart. I really enjoyed this article . It both informed me and confirmed for me what I felt but thought it was "just me". Can I ask you in your research why do we have to follow this insecure trend? Why dont we bring back stable natured working outlets? Why not bring back manufacturing for instance? We have to do something and not give in. Anxious desperate people will do desperate things. It will be chaotic hell on earth. What other ideas did you come across per chance regarding stable work?

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article