Crisis and Opportunity: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Labour Market and Skills Demand

May 6, 2021 | Carrie

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on Canadian society. How will it affect the labour market and what does it mean for future skills demand?

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Recently, The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) released a report, Yesterday’s Gone: Exploring the future of Canada’s labour market in a post-COVID world. This report examines the trends that are expected to impact the future of work. Many of these trends have been "accelerated, disrupted, or created by COVID-19." A previous blog post examines BII+E's earlier research findings from the Employment in 2030 project. 

Yesterday's Gone identifies 8 "mega trends" as well as 34 "meso trends" that are expected to have the greatest impact. The "mega-trends" directly related to technology include permanent remote work and the impact of digital leisure. The growth of digital leisure could result in widespread gamification of work, education and retail. This could have a significant impact on skills demand. It could also see an increased demand for skills related to Extended Reality (XR).

The report also examines:

  • the impact of automation
  • the role of ethical and responsible artificial intelligence (AI)
  • technological and medical advances related to the augmentation of humans
  • how the forced constraints under COVID-19 have resulted in a surge of artistic and entrepreneurial creativity

Another series of reports recently published by BII+E, looks at how Canadian Businesses have adapted to the pandemic. These reports examine how remote work, online sales and tech adoption have impacted the labour market and skills demand. These reports are based on the findings of Statistic Canada's Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC).

The skills identified as being most in demand include:

  • general data skills
  • workforce digital skills (such as Excel)
  • SQL (a database querying software)
  • general software development skills
  • specific programming languages (such as Java)

There is also an increased demand for complementary soft skills such as:

  • problem-solving
  • creativity
  • brainstorming
  • change management
  • leadership 

The Toronto Public Library and the The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship recently hosted a virtual event, Crisis and Opportunity: Tech Adoption and Future Skills Demand. This event explored the key findings of these reports.

Are you interested in learning more about the trends identified above?

The Toronto Public Library has you covered!


Courses from LinkedIn for Library (formerly

Online tutorials that you can take at your own pace. Create an account to track your progress. Learn more about LinkedIn for Library.
To follow the links below to these courses, you will be asked to sign in with your library card. Course descriptions are all from LinkedIn for Library.

Introduction to Responsible AI Algorithm Design

"Walk through the steps involved in designing responsible AI and to making responsible decisions. Along the way, check your learning with included challenge and solution sets."

AI Accountability Essential Training

"Learn why it's absolutely crucial for AI-related data science work to be transparent, explainable, accountable and ethical in its design and execution."

Mixed Reality Development Fundamentals

"Learn how to develop immersive mixed reality applications using Unity."

Learning SQL Programming

"Learn the basics of SQL, the programming language for retrieving and editing data from databases such as SQL Server MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL."

Become a Software Developer (Learning Path)

"Get an introduction to the programming skills needed for a career as a software developer. This learning path provides a broad perspective on core technologies for web development, software development, and databases. It introduces common tools and the bigger picture of how development careers work."

Become a Java Programmer (Learning Path)

Java is the core language for Android and many enterprise web applications. Begin your path toward becoming a professional developer by building a solid foundation in the Java language.

Change Management Foundations

"Learn how to assess your organization's readiness for change and apply a powerful, step-by-step approach to help employees make changes that stick."


O'Reilly Learning

Along with streaming ebooks, O'Reilly Learning (Formerly Safari Tech & Business Books Online) offers a variety of online video courses. Learn more about O'Reilly Learning. To follow the links below to these courses, you will be asked to sign in with your library card. Course descriptions are taken from Safari.

Extended Reality (XR) - Building AR

"The mixed reality market is full of opportunities but finding developers with these skills is a challenge since the industry is still embryonic. If you want to successfully enter the industry, this is the right time to join the AR and VR movement. This course is your chance to benefit from this opportunity by working with these technologies and transforming the way we see and interact with the World. Extended Reality is an umbrella term used for AR, VR, and MR. This course gives you exposure to the Extended Reality world and helps you understand the subtle difference between Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality."

Immersive Office 365: Bringing Mixed Reality and HoloLens into the Digital Workplace

Bring mixed reality into your office workplace by building immersive experiences using data and content from your Office 365 platform. Imagine being able to sit at your desk and surround yourself with a 3D chart showing your work relationships as mined from your relationships with others based on how you collaborate together.

Data Analysis Fundamentals with Excel

This video course takes you-the business user, business analyst, or data analyst-through an end-to-end solution for collecting, cleaning, importing, managing, and sharing data for operational and reporting purposes using Excel.



Human and Machine

Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI

Confident Data Skills

Confident Data Skills: How to Work with Data and Futureproof your Career

Creativity Inc

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

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