Ottawa fears that the technology pushes workers “vulnerable” unemployed

Ottawa craint que la technologie pousse des travailleurs «vulnérables» au chômage

OTTAWA — Fearing that jobs requiring technological skills lead workers “vulnerable” out of the labour market and are adding to the assistance benefit programs of the government, federal officials are seeking a discreet means of stimulating employment among Aboriginal peoples, newcomers and persons with disabilities, reveal internal documents of the government.

In a presentation marked “secret” offered last year to the highest officials of the State, the government said it hoped to find a way to break the stereotypes that constitute barriers to employment.

For example, the documents highlight that employers are often reluctant to hire people with disabilities, believing that it will be too difficult to adapt their working environment.

Increase the employment rate of a mere one percent in each group of workers referred to as “vulnerable” would increase the economy of Canada of about half a percentage point, according to government estimates. A considerable gain while the annual growth is about two percent.

Moreover, as the pervasiveness of new technologies is forcing companies to seek labor, highly qualified, and that many of the workers among these groups are considered to be low-skilled, the officials fear that the evolution of the labour market condemns them to unemployment.

The phenomenon could also hurt many workers who are currently employed and could potentially lose it due to technological progress. All of this would have the consequence of increasing the number of providers of programmes of income support and to put a strain on federal finances.

“The unpredictability of the changing nature of the labour market and demographic pressures could exacerbate vulnerabilities, and switch, among the most vulnerable groups, those who are just on the threshold,” warns the document.

The canadian Press obtained the documents under the Law on access to information, while the liberal government is already talking about publicly use the budget 2019, the last before the general election, to stimulate technical training.

A way to make obsolete

The minister of social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, said recently during an interview from the end of the year that it needed to do more to promote vocational training to ensure that people who have difficulty integrating into the labour market can have a real chance of getting there.

The government is currently undertaking a large evaluation of its programs technical and professional training.

The documents of the ministry of Finance on the subject of the current review indicate that, for example, training programs in Canada target first the immediate needs of the workers who lost their jobs.

But the evolution of new technologies has made this approach obsolete. Instead of finding a new employer who will hire the person to perform the same type of work, it would rather be necessary to enable the individual to acquire new skills to re-enter the labour market in the long term. The review seeks precisely to determine “the adequacy of current programs and where they should be spent on future investments”.

Especially the low-skilled people, who usually have no post-secondary education, 128 000 workers who could enter the labour market if their employment rate increased only one percent. The canadian economy would gain a bonus to growth of 0.4 percent, predict federal officials.

If one focuses only on the situation of newcomers, an increase in the employment rate of immigrants of one percent would add 9500 workers and 0.03 per cent to the gross domestic product of the country. Similar figures apply to First Nations.

For persons with disabilities, an increase in employment of one percent would be 23 400 new workers and economic growth, additional 0.07 percent.

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