Last year was a great year for jobs in Canada. In fact, the nation’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than four decades while producing jobs at the fastest rate since 2002.
According to Rafael Gomez, director and professor at the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto, tech and healthcare are some of the booming sectors of the economy and this trend is expected to continue going forward.
When you focus on Canada’s tech ecosystem, in particular, you’ll notice a rise in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) startups. These innovative businesses are also funded and supported by the government and multinationals creating a wealth of new job opportunities for tech workers.
Its influence on the job market is evidenced by a mouthwatering rise of almost 500% in Canadian AI job openings. Driven by the recent launch of the Vector Institute and numerous startups in Canada, major tech hubs in cities like Toronto saw a growth of 37% in AI-related job opportunities.
Overall, Ontario is now home to about 54% of AI job openings. British Columbia and Quebec are right behind at 24% and 18% of AI job opportunities.
Other cities driving the AI and ML job market in Canada include the following:
- Vancouver 14%
- Montreal 13%
- Burnaby 8%
- Ottawa 5%
- Kitchener 4%
Machine Learning Engineers Are in High-Demand
Machine learning engineers are in high-demand and this role made up as much as 61% of all AI-related job postings (over a 12 months period). These programmers who develop intelligent machines and systems also command a healthy salary of about $102,555 per year.
The rise in demand for this particular occupation can be attributed to the Canadian government’s Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which is supported by $125 million specially allocated for research.
As these software engineers can also develop general purpose technologies in computers and smartphones, they will also be needed in several industries. But while the demand is definitely there, finding the right candidates continues to be a challenge for recruiters.
Ask any IT staffing/consulting agency in the country (or around the world for that matter) and they will tell you that the competition for a limited number of top tech talent is getting fierce. As hiring developers in Canada continues to be difficult, the government has invested heavily in education and relaxed immigration regulations.
All this suggests that the right ingredients are in place to bring Canada into the forefront as a leader in the AI sector in the years to come.
However, with so much investment and acceleration within this space, how will it impact other jobs in the country?
Are Robots Coming for Your Job?
Canada is already home to world’s first global exchange-traded fund that’s completely managed by AI on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Troubled by this, the business news service Bloomberg released a video titled Robots Are Coming for Jobs on Wall Street.
Even Mother Jones published an article titled You Will Lose Your Job to a Robot — and Sooner Than You Think. In this piece, the author predicts a loss of as much as half of the jobs in industrialized, capitalist countries over the next 20 years.
While all these predictions point to a grim future, it’s hard to imagine humans being completely phased out of employment in the near future or even in 50 years. Instead, it makes more sense to think that people will be freed up to concentrate on work that’s more meaningful.
While AI will definitely impact industries like transportation, finance, manufacturing, and insurance, the technology isn't as smart as we think it is, at least not yet. We will still need creative people, people good at selling stuff, and there will also be many opportunities for robots and humans to work side by side in the future.
In some sectors like education, there’s no reason to fear robots as there will always be a need for human attention, especially for special needs kids. As Canada’s aging population grows rapidly, there will also be a considerable need to care for the elderly that demands a human touch.