'Unfortunately, these same vulnerable groups are being especially affected by COVID-related job losses'
Canada could lose as many as 1.2 million jobs by the year 2028 because of automation, but the threat does not affect everyone equally, according to a C.D. Howe report supported by the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University and the Future Skills Centre.
In assessing the likely impact of technological automation on Canada’s labour market, and comparing these results to past predictions, author Rosalie Wyonch finds there is a lower proportion of employment at high risk of automation (about 22 per cent) than most previous estimates.
However, key demographic groups, such as Black and Indigenous individuals, are more susceptible to job loss depending on their occupations.
“Unfortunately, these same vulnerable groups are being especially affected by COVID-related job losses on top of the threat of automation,” says Wyonch, policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute. “The need to physically distance and the disruption to business practices caused by COVID-19 restrictions will likely result in an increase in automation in the short term.”
Shifts to remote collaboration, automation and work from home are here to stay, according to a separate survey of CEOs.
Men, women and immigrants face a similar average risk from automation, says the C.D. Howe report The Next Wave: Automation and Canada’s Labour Market. But young workers, 15 to 24 years of age, are more likely to be employed in occupations at a high risk of automation, while those aged 55 to 64 are the most likely to have jobs with a low risk of automation.
“The occupations that are more likely to be automated generally contain more well-defined tasks and repetition, such as those in manufacturing,” says Wyonch. “Historically, employees in those occupations account for a significant portion of middle-income jobs for those without advanced degrees and a university education.”
Women and men both face the risk of automation in the workplace dating back to 2016, but their risk levels differ, according to a study released by Statistics Canada in September.