Automation: 2018 Labour Market Outlook

15 March 2019
Welcome to the Future
Automation, according to Hollywood, will result in either two possible futures. The first resembling the 2004 movie “I, Robot”, where robots fill service positions, but then suddenly, with the flick of a switch, humans find themselves nearly enslaved by the bots (spoiler ALERT!). The second scenario, humans end up like the iconic 2008 Pixar movie, “Wall-E”: fat, happy, but entirely lacking purpose, while robots serve their every need. Luckily, in British Columbia’s labour market, automation is a tool, a necessary addition; yet there is still the underlying fear that automation will render humans obsolete.

What is automation? Is my friend Dave a robot?
Automation is the use of technology to replace, change, or assist physical or mental tasks traditionally done by people. In the next 10 years, it is forecasted that 166,000 job openings in British Columbia will have a high chance of being effected by automation.  Consequently, this creates concern for job loss.

Who will be affected? I hope Dave doesn’t take my job!
Over the next 10 years, employment is not expected to be reduced as a result of automation, and surprising to many, is expected to have a positive effect on B.C.’s economy. In B.C. there will be 903,000 expected job openings in the coming 10 years, of which there will be a shortage of 130,000 jobs that will not be filled by young people starting work, immigrants, or migrants. As a result, industries with labour shortages can benefit from automation filling a chunk of these jobs.

Moreover, automation will affect jobs based on skill level; resulting in lower skilled positions (which currently face labour shortages) having the highest chance of being impacted by automation. Automation will change which jobs are “in demand”, and will provide opportunities for people to take on less mundane work and more rewarding duties as a part of their jobs. Regardless of your position or skill level, it is now essential to adapt to the changing job requirements and to continue developing skills and competencies. As a whole, automation will provide both challenges and tremendous opportunities for the people of B.C.

Follow these steps to beat the bots:
  1. Firstly, take a deep breath, you are not a robot.
  2. Next, be adaptable. There will be a lot of changes in the workplace spurred by automation in the coming decade: new ideas, new strategies, and new ways of doing things. Embrace this chance to demonstrate that you are willing to change the way you have done things in the past… don’t be a dinosaur. 
  3. Now commit yourself to continuous learning. There is always more to learn, and better ways to accomplish tasks; lets improve you. Additionally, make yourself irreplaceable; focus your learning on areas that are bottlenecks to automation. This includes social intelligence, such as building relationships and communication, as people are essential in these areas. Furthermore, you should read about the “very important” skills and competencies of the future to make sure you’re ready and adaptable to change. Accepting that the automation of some positions is inevitable will give you a head start.
To read more about the changing landscape caused by automations of B.C.’s labour market, go to the 2018 Labour Market Outlook. For information about skills and training programs available to you to adapt and develop with the changing landscape, visit our Training and Education resources. Furthermore, there are many resources for student funding available.

For employers, there are skills training programs for employees, with funding and wage subsidies available.