Canada’s Exciting: 5 Megatrends, 5 Emerging Career Areas & 5 Super Clusters

Canada is already an exciting country and place to live for Students, Businesses, Investors and Entrepreneurs, and it is becoming much more exciting.

Mega Trends in the global economy are creating new industries and economic sectors. Canada is keen to be a global leader in these industries and sectors.

  • To supply talent to these new industries and sectors, new Career areas and certifications are emerging in Canada. They offer Students new study programs, degrees, certifications, and micro-credentials that did not exist just a few years ago, and that will be in high demand with industry.
  • Canada is also responding to these Mega Trends by launching its Super Clusters initiative. This initiative is intended to foster research, capabilities, technologies, organizations, companies, business, and investment in high-growth industries that can increase Canada’s global competitiveness.
  • Together, these Mega Trends, Emerging Career Areas and Super Clusters create opportunities for International Students, Investors, Businesses and Job Seekers interested in coming to Canada.
  • In turn, an international supply of talent, investment, technologies, ideas, know-how and business partners will be key to help Canadian Employers to respond to these Mega Trends, and to help them participate in these high-growth industries by joining in or becoming a supplier to one of Canada’s Super Clusters.

What is a Mega Trend?

The pace of change is accelerating globally. At the beginning, modern humans achieved change slowly, but the changes in culture, society, technology, and industry are speeding up more and more as time goes by.

In other words, significant changes took a long time to take place during Pre-History. They took a lot less time to occur in early history, and so on. Today, we have reached a point in which change is happening amazingly fast, with deep implications to our lives. Some of these changes have become global economic and social Mega Trends.

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Generally speaking, the Mega Trends discussed below are part of what has been called the “4th Industrial” or “4th Technology” Revolution. This “4th Revolution” is mainly about data, technologies, and their connection to things and physical objects.

The 4th Industrial Revolution and these Mega Trends are not just abstract thought. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated further some of these changes. The changes involved in this new revolution and trends are already affecting many areas of our everyday lives.

Major current and upcoming changes, the Mega Trends, are being studied (and continue to be) by scholars, research organizations, governments, and private entities, whether national, multi-national or global. Understanding which are these Mega Trends and why they are happening is important, but even more so is understanding how they impact our lives and what can we do to deal with them.

Mega Trends will affect:

  • What and how people study and prepare for work;
  • How people are recruited to work by employers, what knowledge or skills they need to have, what work will they be doing, and how productive they can be at it;
  • Where investors and entrepreneurs are going to invest in, from countries and economic sectors to industries and businesses;
  • How businesses plan for growth, which opportunities they will pursue, how they manage their processes, how they add value to their customers and consumers, and how they work with their vendors or suppliers;
  • How governments can better support innovation in their economies, what for and in which sectors, how can they prepare their workforces to face these changes, and how to adjust to compete globally for investment and talent.

What are the Top-5 Mega Trends in the Canadian Economy and Society?

According to a report by the Brookfield Institute, each Mega Trend includes narrower change trends, which the Institute calls “Meso Trends”. The report also assesses the level of maturity or awareness level for each Meso Trend (Weak, Emerging, or Mature).

This is our list of 5, selected from the 8 in the Brookfield Institute’s “Yesterday’s Gone” research report:

  1. Our Lives Online
  2. Technology To The Rescue
  3. Climate In Crisis
  4. Reconciliation + Inclusion
  5. Shifting Power

Other Mega Trends mentioned in the report but not discussed here are Capitalism in Question, Finding Meaning & Well Being, and Evolving Population.

Below are the 5 Mega Trends we selected, their Emerging Meso Trends, and a few comments.

1. Our Lives Online

Meso Trends: Permanent Remote Work; Post-Secondary, Disrupted; and Immersive Digital Leisure.

Permanent Remote Work is an important Meso Trend. 40% of Canadian workers moved to working from home due to COVID-19 lockdowns (Statistics Canada); the Conference Board of Canada announced that it was selling its head office; Shopify is going fully digital in a month or so. This Meso Trend will remain in a post-COVID Canada, and in most developed and developing countries. Concepts like “Digital Nomads” (employees or free-lancers able to do their work remotely from anywhere around the globe), Flexible Remote/In-office work or positions, and Digital Immigrants (people working on “remote work Visas”) will be more widely used and prevalent in the years to come.

Regarding Post-Secondary education, it has indeed been disrupted, which is another Meso Trend according to the report. Many institutions have moved or are moving at least some of their Study Programs to full or partial online instruction. Investment in Virtual reality for education is growing fast in the world. In parallel, some industries and employers are demanding a workforce with much narrower, focused skills sets, and that Students be prepared in much shorter periods through Employer Certification (courses directly offered by employers) or Micro-Credentials (months-short programs offered by Post-Secondary institutions). Accordingly, we will continue to see changes in Post-Secondary Education in Canada, especially among Universities and Colleges (which served 530+ Thousand International Students in 2019 and employed over 310 Thousand people).

As for the Immersive Digital Leisure Meso Trend, it is a product of more free time among the population, slowdown of presential outdoor activities such as work, dining and tourism under COVID-19 restrictions, and fast-paced improvements in new technologies.

2. Technology to the Rescue

Meso Trends: Automation Nation; Responsible AI; and “Space Jam”.

Automation Nation: Statistics Canada has reported that Canadian companies investing in robots as automation technology have 15% more workers. As seen in other countries, automation does not automatically generates job losses. Mining, Manufacturing, Food services, and Transportation are industries where some job losses might occur, but companies will need talent with higher skills to incorporate automation, automation-related applications, robotics, and advanced manufacturing.

Responsible AI: Artificial intelligence (AI) is being widely adopted, especially in developed and developing countries, with a 2019 Market Size Value of USD $52 Billion and forecasted to grow to USD $81 Billion by 2027. Education about AI, Privacy, AI Ethics, Responsible Data Collection, and Algorithm Bias Avoidance will be needed to better understand the social consequences of AI, implications for regulations, and how can companies use AI responsibly.

“Space Jam”: New investments in Canada’s Space (Aerospace) industry and related economic development will spur growth in space, aerospace, energy and transportation sciences and technologies (for fuel cells, robotics, AI, 3D printing, Materials, Internet for Space, etc.). New study programs and job positions are becoming available for this growing industry in Canada.

3. Climate in Crisis

Meso Trends: Green Energy Revolution; and Air and Water Contaminated.

Green Energy Revolution. By 2030, Canada sees forecasted investments in Green Energy growing 46%, along with a major development of carbon-free transportation. This will create a sharp increase of occupations related to green energy, as the appropriate skills come in demand.

Air and Water Contaminated: As demand for clean water increases and gaps (especially among indigenous communities) are addressed, governments across Canada (Federal, Provincial and Municipal) are committing to change public policies to address this demand and secure better, sustainable water and air quality. Related commercial solutions, policy contents, technologies, products, and services will be needed in Canada, in parallel with the education programs, student base and workforce to support them.

4. Reconciliation and Inclusion

Meso Trends: Road to Reconciliation; Land Back; and Anti-Racism in the Workplace.

Although Canada is for the most part an inclusive, non-discriminatory society, pockets of exclusion and racism exist, like in most countries. Canada continues to put in place efforts to achieve a more inclusive future and eradicate racism and exclusion. Canadian governments at all levels, as well as many types Civil and Private Organizations (including those led, managed, or owned by Indigenous groups and minorities), are increasingly supportive of an increasing demand for content by Indigenous authors; of online and social media efforts to raise awareness about these diversity- and inclusion-related issues and solutions; as well as of Indigenous- and Black-owned businesses.

5. Shifting Power

Meso Trends: America vs. America; Deglobalization; and Gen Z Takeover.

America vs. America: Political instability in the U.S., along with incentives and special programs by Canadian governments (i.e., Canada’s Super Clusters initiative) might lead to U.S. businesses in key economic sectors outsourcing to Canada, creating more jobs, and increasing the demand for talent. At the same time, as political and social tensions in the U.S. continue to rise, Canada might see higher demand among International Students, Temporary Foreign Workers, Innovators and Entrepreneurs, who might now prefer to pursue their “Canadian Dream” instead of the “American Dream”.

Generation Z Takeover: Gen Z’s influence to change the status quo is increasing, mainly through activism both on- and off-line. Among others, profile characteristics of members of Gen Z include being socially conscious, politically engaged, diverse, tech proficient and digitally native. In Canada, Gen Z currently sits at 25% of population, with a buying power of $50 Billion. Globally, by 2030 Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) will be 30% of the labor market. In response to Gen Z’s growing influence, governments and companies in Canada will adjust via more socially-oriented policies and programs.

What is an Emerging Career Area?

Uncertainty is another name for today’s reality. New technologies, new economic and social trends, the evolving composition of the world’s population, changes in the mindset of new generations, all compound to make these uncertain times, aggravated by circumstantial factors like the COVID pandemic.

But along with uncertainty comes opportunity.

All of these trends are deeply changing existing industries and even creating new ones, and they are also changing the way we work. These changes, in turn, make it necessary to prepare a workforce that has the skill sets and knowledge required now and in the immediate future. This creates opportunities.

Emerging Career Areas are adjustments to curricula and wholly new study programs designed to respond to these needs. Students will now have new options for career paths that did not exist just a few years ago.

But what are the Emerging Career Areas to watch for? The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) reviewed the Brookfield Institute’s Mega Trends report to respond to this question. Resulting from that review, CERIC recently published an article in its online magazine’s site, CareerWise, called “The future of work in Canada: 5 emerging sectors to watch”.

The Top-5 Emerging Career Areas.

According to the CareerWise article, the Top-5 Emerging Career Areas or sectors are:

1. Cleantech and green energy:

Clean Energy Canada says that the 850 cleantech companies in Canada surpass the 700 aerospace and 450 automotive firms in the country. Some emerging Careers in this Area include Master’s of Science in New and Renewable and Clean Energy; Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences – Clean Energy Technology and Entrepreneurship; Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering – Clean and Renewable Energy Option; Bachelor of Physics – Nanotechnology and Clean Energy; and many more. They will fill jobs like Energy Innovation Strategist, Climate and Energy Policy Manager/Analyst, Clean Energy Researcher, Clean Energy Consultant, Remote Sensor/Sensing Scientist, Coordinator of Climate Ventures, Bioproducts Scientist, New Technologies Marketing Manager, etc.

2. Immersive digital entertainment:

This area includes Emerging Careers such as Graduate Certificate – Virtualization and Cloud Computing; Bachelor of Science – Virtual Technology and Design; Bachelor of Science – Virtual and Augmented Reality; Graduate Certificate – Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality; Master of Arts in Immersive Technology, or in Immersive Story Telling, or Immersive and Virtual Media. Job opportunities in this area include many, such as Augmented Reality Designer, Experiential Creative Director, Digital Content Architect, Show Runner, Digital Producer, Data Analyst, Industrial Technology Advisor – Information and Communications Technology, Digital Gaming Director, Senior Digital Artist – 3D Generalist, among others.

3. Responsible AI:

Jobs in responsibly-managed AI include AI Developer; AI & Computer Vision Designer; Head of AI Design; Medical AI Consultant; Technical AI Writer; Senior Analyst – AI Process Optimization; Responsible AI Policy Manager; AI Graphic Designer; Computer Vision Engineer; and many others. To fill these positions, some Emerging Career Areas are Bachelor of Science – Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science; Advanced Diploma – Data Science and Artificial Intelligence; Master of Engineering in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence; Bachelor of Arts – Ethics and Political Philosophy; Master of Laws – Concentration in Health Law, Policy and Ethics; and many others.

4. Space:

Emerging Career Areas in Space include, among others, Graduate Certificate – Composites and Advanced Materials Aerospace Manufacturing; College Diploma – Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering Technician; Bachelor of Engineering – Aerospace Engineering; Bachelor of Applied Science – Mechanical Engineering – Aerospace; Bachelor of Science – Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science; College Diploma – Mechatronics and Robotics; and many others. Some Jobs in Space are Aerospace General Engineer; Software Developer – Graphical User Interface (GUI); Planner, Space Supply Chain; Aerospace Engineer-Propulsion Systems; Electronics and Firmware Developer; IoT Development Engineer; Organizational Learning Advisor; and many more.

5. Micro-credentials and alternative education:

New Careers, Micro-Credentials and Alternative Education are emerging as an alternative to traditional post-secondary education. Some students see new industries, technologies, and jobs in the horizon and want to explore the value and speediness of shorter courses and streamlined certifications to acquire job-specific skills, as opposed to going through the traditional 4-year route for a Bachelor’s degree. Micro-Credentials such as Certificate and Diploma Courses, particularly in the Tech sector, are a good alternative for students that want to get into the workforce faster, save money in Tuition, and explore work areas which may not be as crowded. Canada offers more than 4,000 Post-Secondary Certificate and Undergraduate Diploma Study programs through more than 200 Universities, Colleges, and Institutes.

An example of alternative education are Employer Certification courses. For example, Google is currently offering a 6-week career certification course, which it accepts to hire staff (instead of demanding a 4-year degree). However, there are only a few of these Employer Certification programs available in the world, spaces are extremely limited and competitive, and demand is high, so they are not yet a viable option for a vast majority of international students.

What is Canada’s Super Cluster Initiative?

Let us clarify first what is a Super Cluster. According to the Super Cluster site of ISED-Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, “Clusters are areas of intense business activity made up of companies, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations that boost innovation and growth in a particular industry”. There are many Clusters around the world, such as Silicon Valley in the U.S., various Automotive Clusters in Mexico, Pharmaceutical Clusters in India, Medical Clusters in Germany, and numerous more around the world. ISED’s site also indicates that “A Supercluster is a made-in-Canada approach, where existing clusters have been supercharged with up to $950 million in federal government funding, matched dollar-for-dollar by industry.”

According to the site, each Super Cluster usually includes:

  • large and small companies;
  • researchers and academics;
  • not-for-profit organizations; and
  • accelerators and incubators.

Canada’s Super Cluster Initiative is a program designed to speed up the development of select industries through investment, policies, and coordination efforts to attract Industry Leaders, Small and Medium-sized Companies (SMEs), and Post-Secondary institutions. Each Super Cluster then focuses collaborative efforts by all these stakeholder on large-scale projects, to accelerate growth in the industry or industries in that particular Super Cluster.

Canada’s Supper Clusters Initiative to support growth in these industries was launched so that Canada becomes a global leader in them. In turn, these industries will attract investments and talent into Canada, and create jobs. In the next decade, ISED will monitor the success of Canada’s Superclusters to reach a goal of 50 Thousand jobs created and $50 Billion in additional GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Which are Canada’s 5 Super Clusters-?

The 5 Super Clusters contained in this initiative are Digital Technologies, Plant Proteins, Advanced Manufacturing, AI-Powered Supply Chains Supercluster (Scale AI), and Ocean.

Canada 5 Super Clusters

How do Mega Trends, New Careers and Super Clusters come together for Canada?

So, how does all of this come together? How do Mega Trends, Emerging Career Areas and Super Clusters work jointly for Canada?

Mega Trends show where the World and Canada are going in terms of economic and social areas for growth. Economic and social trends mark priorities that countries, and Canada specifically, should focus on and prepare for to meet the challenges of the future (which is starting to happen now!).

Canada’s Emerging Career Areas are the response of the its Post-Secondary Education system to these Mega Trends. Study Programs designed to address Emerging Career Areas create the talent pool and skills sets that industry will need to take advantage of these Mega Trends.

Finally, Super Clusters are an initiative by the Government of Canada to bring together investment, policies, and coordination efforts, as well as key stakeholders such as Industry Leaders, Small and Medium-sized Companies (SMEs), and Post-Secondary Institutions, to capitalize on these Mega Trends and reach the goals of creating 50 Thousand new jobs and adding $50 Billion to Canada’s GDP by 2030.

Using an analogy, in the World’s highly competitive economic race, Mega Trends are the racing track. They mark the direction in which the economy and society are heading globally,

Canada wants to have several of the faster racecars in the race, and for each of them to win their race or at least get into the top-3 places. Focused Investment, targeted Super Clusters, a responsive Education System that offers tailored Emerging Career paths, and a Workforce with the right skill set and enough workers, all need to fuel Canada’s economic engine to win this race. This is shown in the graphic below.

What does this mean for International Students, Investors, Businesses, Job Seekers, and Canadian Employers?

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