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Race Alongside the Machines - Occupational digitalization trends in Canada, 2006–2021 (2022)

Posted on:
December 12, 2022

This report chronicles "the digitization of work over the last 15 years by examining the rise of
digital skills through job classification frameworks, primarily by using the National Occupational
Classification (NOC) and its American equivalent, O*NET. Their analysis confirms what many of us have already experienced one way or another - jobs that involve more repetitive or routine tasks saw the highest gains in digital advancements and integrations. However, the volume of these same jobs that experienced high digitization usually reached a plateau over time. This report
also investigates how even non-repetitive jobs are increasingly demanding digital knowledge and skills, indicating that the most sought-after skills are constantly changing over time...

Jobs that once required little to no digital skills are increasingly requiring workers to adopt them
into their day-to-day work tasks. Production outputs, resource needs and labour patterns are
perpetually changing, and these changes require new thinking on how we prepare Canadians for
the future of work.

This report offers a comprehensive look into how technology has impacted jobs and workers in the last 15 years. This information is designed to serve as a tool to understand the projected impact of technology on worker outcomes in Canada to ensure that we get the best and avoid the worst of technology-driven innovation."

Some key findings

"In the last 15 years, occupations associated with routine work saw the highest rates of digitalization. Jobs with the highest rates of digitalization were those that managed data, i.e., property managers, health information management, railway conductors, and scheduling coordinators.

In the last five years, however, jobs most associated with non-routine work are the top movers in digitalization. The top occupations identified were photographic and film processors, physicians, and engineering inspectors.

Digital technologies assist workers with carrying out work requiring a high level of reasoning and analytical skills. Workers who used technology to perform routine tasks saw more independence and autonomy in how they carried out their work, leaving them to focus on tasks that required more analytical thinking and higher reasoning.

Pilots and translators were leading occupations for digital adoption between 2006 to 2016. During the 2016 to 2021 period, however, their pace of digitalization fell so significantly that compared to other occupations across the total (15 year) period examined, they present as digital adoption laggards.

Digital skills in highest demand are constantly changing over the years, which has implications for worker training and risks of hyper-specialization. Malleability, critical thinking, and general knowledge across skills are vital to ensuring workers can adapt to the jobs of tomorrow."



This report chronicles the digitization of work over the last 15 years by examining the rise of digital skills through job classification frameworks.