Flash Forward: A Snapshot of the Workforce of the Future

Angie - Test Knowles, | August-19-11





Flash Forward: A Snapshot of the Future Workforce


In a crystal ball moment, what would the labour force of the future look like? What changes would we see, and how significant would they be?

According to most projections of future workforce demographics, the transformation of the labour force will be remarkable. The main reason for this dramatic change has become something of a familiar refrain: the aging of the baby boomers.

In a compelling recent release, Statistics Canada reviewed several projection scenarios to develop a preview of the Canadian labour force 20 years from now, a point in time when all baby boomers will have reached the age of 65.


Here’s the picture that emerged of the workforce in 2031:

Compared to 1 in 10 people in the labour force in 2001, the Statistics Canada study projected that the proportion of individuals in the workforce aged 55 or more could climb to nearly 1 in 4 by just 2021.* As part of this trend, the ratio of workers to retirees will also drop significantly. In 1981, there were 6 people in the workforce for each retired individual aged 65 and up.* By 2031, this ratio could shift to as low as 3 to 1.*

Another major change in the future labour force could involve the rate of workforce participation. Based on Statistics Canada’s projections, the rate of people aged 15 and over in the labour force in 2010 was 67%.* By 2031, this percentage is projected to drop to between 59.7 to 62.6%.*

If this is a vision of the possible future workforce in Canada, the environmental sector will experience just as notable of a transformation.

Within the next 10 years, 14% of the Canadian environmental workforce will reach retirement age, according to ECO Canada’s Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment 2010. This percentage works out to be over 100,000 environmental employees. Retirement will have a greater impact for such areas as research and development, environmental health and safety, site assessment and reclamation, environmental education, waste management and water quality.

As this trend towards an aging workforce continues, employers will face stiff competition to attract and retain employees in a shrinking labour pool.

What are your thoughts? How will the changing workforce affect the way that employers recruit and engage employees in the future?






*Source: Statistics Canada. 2011. Projected trends to 2031 for the Canadian labour force in the Canadian Economic Observer. [August Edition, Vol.24, No.6]. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-010-X. [http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-010-x/2011008/part-partie3-eng.htm]