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Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

The Canadian Press
Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the coming boom in automated vehicles with ripple effects beyond the likeliest victims, internal government documents warn.

The documents from Employment and Social Development Canada give a glimpse into the ongoing concerns and policy options government officials have wrestled with to help workers whose jobs may be threatened, and young people who are entering the labour force.

A 2017 presentation predicted automation could kill some 500,000 transportation jobs — from truck drivers to subway operators to taxi drivers and even courier services — as well as more than 600,000 additional jobs such as parking attendants, auto-body repair workers and even police and emergency personnel.

It warns that retraining some of these workers may be difficult and that jobs they may turn to that require similar skills are also likely to be automated.

A separate briefing note from earlier this year to the top official at the department said national efforts, some of which may not be within the government’s mandate, will be needed to counteract the negative effects of automation.

The federal budget in 2017 pledged about $1.8 billion over six years to help pay for expanded skills training programs in provinces and territories to try and keep traditional workers from being left behind in a tech-fuelled economy. It is an issue Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is working on tackling.

“We’ve seen the challenges and the anxieties that are out there amongst Canadians right across the country and our focus is on making sure that everyone has a real and fair chance to succeed,” Trudeau told a meeting of representatives from Canada’s Building Trades Unions recently.

Earlier this year the Liberals launched an advertising campaign to educate younger workers about federal programs and services that they can use to help navigate their entry into the workforce. A recent federally-funded opinion survey suggests there isn’t a lot of public awareness about government programs on this front, and recommended the government create an online tool to help workers navigate their ongoing education and training needs

RBC is launching something along those lines this week, with a focus on the fears young people have landing a first job.

Those fears are significant in the context of heightened nerves about whether the jobs young people are interested in doing will disappear as the world of work changes, said Mark Beckles, RBC’s senior director of youth strategy.

“Employers today are hiring for the future and employers are telling us that many of the jobs for which they are hiring, young people are coming out of school without the requisite experience or requisite education,” Beckles said in an interview.

“The challenge then becomes how do we close that skills gap to ensure that young people can come out of university or college with the right skills and the right experiences to be competitive for those jobs.”

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