How we work and the type of jobs we have is undergoing rapid transformation. The more you know about these changes, the better off you’ll be to make decisions about your future.

Employment has changed before, but some things are different this time.


The industrial revolution saw the shift from agriculture and crafts to the mass production of goods through factory labour.


This transition to an industrialized society led to innovation and economic growth, but also brought with it social upheaval and dramatic political reactions as a consequence.


We are again experiencing big changes in the way we work. Two big factors driving this change in employment are the opening up of trade barriers through globalization, and advancing technology.

As technology advances and our global economy shifts, the rate of employment change is accelerating.

Employment Change

Emerging economies are becoming more competitive

In recent decades established economies like Canada have seen a move away from manufacturing with many jobs moving overseas.

We replaced the jobs we lost in manufacturing with service based work.

But manufacturing overseas isn’t impervious to disruption. Automation is going to impact everyone.

When it comes to technological disruption, emerging economies are looking for ways to stay competitive by taking on more service-based jobs through IT and Business Process Outsourcing.

10 Years


The world's GDP growth

In the next decade, the developing world will create more than 60% of the world’s GDP growth.


Since 2000, Canada has lost 23% of all factory jobs, shedding 500,000 jobs

For every job that has been lost in the goods sector since 2001, about 30 jobs have been created in service industries.

– Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen S. Poloz


In May of 2016, Chinese tech manufacturing giant Foxconn let go of 60,000 employees to make way for robots


In 2016 the global market for outsourced services was 96.6 billion Canadian dollars.

Technology is decoupling productivity and employment

  • Productivity

  • Employment

US index of productivity and employment (indexed 1947=100)

Wages and productivity have tended to trend together. Since 2000, technological innovation has been increasing while wages have been falling behind.

45% to 47% of Canadian jobs can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.

We live in an era of constant disruption

Technology is rapidly impacting and reinventing industries across the globe. 64% of Canadian businesses are marginally or not at all prepared for disruption challenges.

Advanced Robotics

1.4 million new robots will be installed in factories around the world by 2019

Artificial Intelligence

It is expected that A.I. will surpass human brainpower by 2023 (six years from now)

3D Printing

3D Printing is set to disrupt global manufacturing with its market expected to grow to $5.2 billion by 2020

Internet of Things

1 trillion devices will be networked by 2025

There is nothing to replace the jobs we are losing.


70% of young people are entering into jobs that will be affected by automation.


60% are being trained for jobs expected to be disrupted by automation.

Unlike the industrial revolution, productivity gains from robotics and artificial intelligence may eliminate jobs without creating new ones.


46% of the Canadian workforce is at risk of being replaced.

This is a problem that affects everyone

Our global economy is a complex network. We no longer just compete with people in our home town for work. Companies now have access to a global pool of skills and labour.

When a factory closes somewhere else in the world because of automation, chances are their former workers are upgrading their skills. Automation also means shifts in government and educational priorities in order to adjust and stay competitive.

But governments can only do so much. It’s up to us as individuals to be aware of these changes, take action and stay competitive.

This is underscored by a growth in the global working age population (15-64) expected to reach 5 billion by 2020.

x 500,000,000

People are confused and frustrated

As we’ve seen, productivity is rising but wages have stagnated. This problem can be made worse by increased automation.

In the US, middle income households are no longer the majority and have fallen from 61% of adults in 1971 to 50% in 2015.

American Flag

Rising income inequality is leading to social instability and anger at the polls in some countries, as middle class jobs shrink.

Young people expect more from their jobs

Along with all of these shifts in employment, we are also starting to see a large shift in attitudes towards employment and the value we derive from our jobs.

According to a Deloitte survey, young people are prioritizing a healthier work/life balance over career progression.


61% of young Canadians expect to leave their job to join a new organization or do something different in the next five years.

Economic changes have shifted as risk has shifted from organizations to individuals. Some employers have become less loyal to employees and benefit programs have been cut or eliminated. People are now forced to become more active in managing their own career growth and retirement.

Self employment is on the rise
(The Gig Economy)

In an age of employment instability and changing lifestyle habits, people are turning to starting their own businesses.

In one generation, there will be no employees. Everyone is going be a subcontractor.

– John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures


of Canadians are predicted to be self employed by 2020.


of large corporations have plans to substantially increase the use of a flexible workforce.

A recent study from Upwork and Freelance Union has shown that 63% of independent workers have started their businesses out of choice rather than necessity.

Stack of Cash

68% of freelancers earn the same, or more, than they did in their previous full time job.

Freelancers report being more respected, empowered and excited to start the day than non-freelancers.

According to a FreshBooks survey, people cite multiple reasons for turning to self-employment and entrepreneurship:



Being your own boss:


Choice of work:


Job security:


Small businesses are growing the economy

Canada relies on small businesses to sustain and grow the economy.


97.9% of employers in Canada are small businesses*.


Small businesses employ 70.5% of the private labour force*.


On average, small businesses contribute 30% to Canada’s total GDP.


The self-employed account for 37% of the total Canadian workforce.

According to Stats Canada, self-employed workers earn more money than regular workers.

Technology is making it easier to start and run a business

New low cost subscription software (SaaS), that will do everything from accounting to recruiting, is eliminating the barrier to entry for new small businesses.


64% of small to medium sized companies use cloud based apps to drive their business.

How to adapt to constant change

Change and disruption are the new normal, but change creates opportunity if you have the right mindset.

Responsibility for job security and career advancement is now more in your control. Those who are proactive and see their career as a business will be more prepared to weather changes in work climate.

Understanding this and being proactive is the first step to being prepared for the future.

Stay informed and understand how these changes can impact you

Information is vital to good decision making. Learn more about how work is changing by visiting

Start your own business

Starting your own business is a good way to take control of your career, achieve a better work life balance and mitigate against employment risk and volatility.

According to a poll by the Royal Bank of Canada, 79% of Canadians now feel working for themselves is less risky than working for someone else.

Find out about business loans and mentoring from Futurpreneur Canada at