As permanent employment declines, workers switch jobs more often, and training programs fail to adapt, the world needs an open platform for employment and training. A global effort, like the one that built the International Space Station in the 1990s, could provide the funding and critical mass of data needed—and Canada could lead it.
Summary and recommendations
Policy-makers today face complex issues about employment. Permanent, full-time employment is in long-term decline, workers are changing jobs at an increasing pace, and outdated training programs are failing to connect with what businesses need. Jurisdictions are wrestling with how to modernize their employment and training systems by incorporating technology. But they are coming up with small, disconnected solutions that are insufficient for the challenges ahead. We need to think bigger:
- Technology alone won’t solve the challenges facing Canada’s workforce. But a robust employment and training technology platform with open standards would be an extraordinary enabler for public policy innovation and the individual efforts of workers and companies. It would build resiliency into the system and give workers the tools they need to help themselves in a time of rapid change
- The ideal system would require a new, independent and international organization. Given the failures of national governments to build technology at scale, it is unrealistic for Canada, or any one country, to build such a solution on its own. Partnerships with large technology companies are also problematic, particularly due to concerns around data ownership and privacy
- Several countries working together could gather the funding and critical mass of data required to create a truly transformative platform—one akin in scale and ambition to the International Space Station built in the 1990s. If such a platform could be operated independent of bureaucracy, be managed like a tech company, and follow strict data privacy, a new “Space Station for Work” could help prepare us for the ongoing transformation of our labour markets
- Canada, with its significant talent pool in artificial intelligence, large existing commitment to innovation, and strong reputation on the diplomatic stage, is well positioned to champion such a project
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