Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity to present some of our findings to the committee.
For those of you who aren't aware, the Conference Board is a non-profit research institute. We're now “virtual first”, with staff right across the country. We conduct research in nine key areas, including economics, education skills and human resources, and of course we are a proud partner with the Future Skills Centre, with whom we've published nearly 100 different pieces of research content over the last few years and brought together thousands of people to talk about the future of work in Canada.
I am vice-president of research at the Conference Board. I am an economist by training and I'm the executive lead for the work that we do with the Future Skills Centre.
As all of the other witnesses have mentioned, the green transition is going to be a big change for Canada, with significant implications for our labour market. There are going to be increased job opportunities for some types of roles and reduced demand for others, and it will also change the skills required and tasks performed in many occupations.
This last point is very important. We need to talk and think about jobs in the context of the tasks that people are required to perform and the skills they need to succeed. This is because relatively few jobs will be exclusively green. In fact, most jobs will have green tasks embedded within them, and as a result, we'd like to increasingly think about jobs as being on a green continuum rather than being either green or not. What's more, where jobs stand on that green continuum is likely to change over time.
That said, in our research we did want to come up with a framework to talk about green jobs, so to do that we looked at the Canadian labour market in two key ways. First we looked at the industries where people are working, and what we found are three key areas where green jobs are present. First there's clean energy production, transmission and distribution. Second are businesses that are focused on energy efficiency improvements, primarily construction and manufacturing firms. Finally, there is environmental management and services.
The second lens that we apply is looking at the occupations where people actually work. We focus on three key criteria when trying to define green jobs.
First, is demand for the roles increasing as a result of the green transition? An example would be power line installers. Demand is rising as we transition to non-GHG emitting forms of electricity in our energy mix.
The second is jobs where the required skills are changing for existing roles due to the green transition. An example would be engineering or architectural types of roles where there's growing need to have knowledge about energy efficiency.
The final area is entirely new or emerging roles—for example, wind turbine technicians.
Using this definition, we found that there are currently about 900,000 jobs in Canada today that are green. It's about 5% of the workforce. What is more, in our work with the Future Skills Centre we are forecasting over the next 20 years what the Canadian labour market will look like, and we find that the green share will steadily grow in the coming years.
Of course, those are the jobs that we define as green today. Keep in mind my initial comments that many jobs will move up the green continuum over that period of time, so more and more jobs will have green tasks or skills embedded within them.
How do we help people prepare for this? We find that most people who are at the highest risk of disruption, the people who are most likely to lose their jobs in the coming decades, are able to actually transition to green-collar jobs with one year or less of retraining. However, there are a lot of caveats inside of that. For example, there are many opportunities, but opportunities vary quite a bit depending on where you are in the country. For example, on a relative basis, Ontario and Alberta have much more opportunity, while Atlantic Canada has less. The cost of training is also quite different, depending on what region you're in. In Alberta, it's very high. Quebec is the lowest in the country, and the gap is quite large. It's about a 30% difference between the two provinces.
The good news is that we've found that about three-quarters of people are willing to move into green-collar jobs, but in order to make this happen, there are a number of barriers that need to be overcome. The first one is fear. People need to know that new green-collar jobs provide job security and that they'll provide pay that at least is comparable to their current roles. They also need to be convinced that they're able to acquire the skills they need to be able to succeed, because some people have a fear that they're not able to learn these new skills.
The last thing is around helping people transition how they think about themselves. Many people strongly identify who they are with their current role, their current job title, and if that changes, there's fear associated with that change.
The second big thing is around supports to cover the cost of retraining, including employer supports so that people can take time away from work. Most people cannot easily take extended time away from work once they enter the workforce.
The third big thing is around equal access to training. In our research, we find that older workers, those without tertiary education and those with deficiencies in fundamental skills are less likely to be given training opportunities, but they are also the ones who are most in need of upskilling.
Just to close, because I'm out of time, transitioning labour markets toward green-collar jobs will be a marathon, not a sprint. Hundred of thousands of people will be entering and leaving the workforce every year. This means that we need to tackle the challenges at different levels. It will mean different changes for people who are in school and for people who are already working. It will mean that we have to think differently in different communities, because the transitions will be different for each of our different communities.