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Panel - The Future of Work - Changing Workforce and the Implications for Rural Canada

15:30, Tuesday 9 May 2023 EDT (1 hour 30 minutes)

Globalization and the interconnections between people, places, and ideas has changed the nature of work globally, and rural areas are no exception (Dickens, 2015). Workforce challenges are experienced across rural Canada, albeit in differing ways (Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, 2021). For example, demographic changes (aging and youth outmigration) have resulted in labour shortages which are expected to continue to grow (Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, 2015, 2021; Carr & Kefalas, 2009; Federation of Canadian Municipalities, 2018). The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in remote workers moving to rural communities, with both positive and negative impacts, including impacts to cost of living that in turn contributed to workforce shortages in particular sectors (Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, 2021; OECD, 2020). Changing technology in natural resource sectors is impacting the types of skills and education needed, as well as the number of workers (McNab & Garcia-Vasquez, 2011). Taken together, these demonstrate the complex and overlapping nature of workforce challenges and the significant implications for development in rural Canada. 

This panel has two objectives, first to present results from two national research projects exploring the future of work in rural Canada, and second, to discuss the implications of these findings – focusing on what a changing workforce means for rural Canada. Findings will draw on examples from case studies from across rural Canada, demonstrating the range and place-based nature of the topic. 

The Addressing Labour Shortages through Newcomer Attraction project aims to provide rural communities and businesses with the knowledge to address workforce gaps by examining and evaluating innovative rural workforce strategies, plans, and policies to address current and future labour gaps and by conducting a series of in-depth case studies to examine the kay catalysts for success in workforce attraction and retention. Panelists from this project will speak to the results of a detailed review of the academic and policy literature, as well as preliminary case study results.

The Remote controlled: The impacts of disruptive technologies in the Canadian mining sector project is multi-year project exploring the adoption of emerging technologies in the Canadian mining sector in four provinces and territories. Project results demonstrate a clear relationship between changing technology and changing needs related to skills and education. Using mining as an example of changing natural resource sectors, panelists from this project will speak to case study results, discussing the implications for the size and characteristics of rural workforces.

Building on research results, the panel will discuss potential solutions and opportunities.

Master of ceremonies
Selkirk College
Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development
Univeristy of Guelph
Memorial University, Grenfell Campus
Univeristy of Guelph
University of Waterloo
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