Canada will need an evenly distributed workforce to match its net-zero goals — and soon, explains Accelerate Alliance’s Matthew Fortier
With a growing consensus on the needs and benefits of transitioning to a net-zero economy, including switching from fuel-burning to clean, zero-emission vehicles, a massive shift is taking place in the thinking of policymakers and across the industry.
A significant element of this shift includes Canada’s future net-zero job market.
Policymakers and industry face the not-small task of leveraging the tremendous climate and health benefits of this transition alongside the equally enormous co-benefit of job creation.
We are inching closer to the 2023 Federal Budget, expected in the coming weeks. Much attention will be on how the federal government plans to employ “a real, robust industrial policy” to facilitate the shift to a net-zero economy. (As outlined in Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland’s 2022 Fall Economic Statement.)
A core element of this industrial policy framework will is creating more net-zero jobs.
Targeted skills development
Accelerate is Canada’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Supply Chain alliance. It brings together industry players from across the entire supply chain to ensure a smooth transition for industry and consumers. We advocate for ongoing analysis and investment in targeted skills development and training to ensure Canada’s workforce stays apace with net-zero job creation in our industry.
Last week, in partnership with member companies ChargePoint (a leading electric vehicle charging network) and Dunsky Climate and Energy Advisors, we released the EV Charging and Jobs in Canada report.
By 2035 all new vehicle sales in Canada are expected to be zero-emission. We will need up to 475,000 public charging ports and over two million ports in multi-unit residential buildings. Based on this, the job report estimates a need for 3,500 full-time electricians, civil and general contractors and related positions.
The report also notes that these jobs are already in demand in every corner of Canada. There is also an aging demographic in the skilled trades, currently. Ensuring the stability of the labour market for these trades is critical to Canada’s net-zero transition.
The findings in this report provide some insight into just how quickly this competition will ramp up. Expectations are that up to 2,720 positions may be needed by 2025 to meet Canada’s charging infrastructure needs.
That’s only two years away.
These are jobs and people that will underpin Canada’s transition to mass electrified transportation. But these same roles are also required for the transition of other industrial sectors to net-zero.
In short: many more Canadians will need to train in the skills required to deliver the net-zero transition.
Canada’s auto industry is already well on its way to transitioning to the zero-emission future. Stakeholders are actively looking across its entire supply chain to assess and plan for labour needs. But more Canadians will need to be part of our ZEV industry if it is going to meet expected consumer demand and fulfill its potential as a driver of our future prosperity.
Success depends on the efficient transition of workers from jobs expected to decrease or disappear in the coming years to those that will emerge and become part of Canada’s industrial future, such as charging infrastructure deployment. Government, industry, labour and post-secondary institutions must develop the investments, policies and tools necessary to attract, train and retain the talent upon which this ecosystem will rely.
As our industry looks toward 2035, successfully transitioning to net zero will mean rapidly upskilling Canada’s workforce.
As much as funding will be critical to Canada’s industrial policy approach, it will be equally important to plan and strategize to ensure Canadian workers — including those underrepresented in the field today — see future career opportunities in zero-emission mobility.
Matthew Fortier is President and CEO of the Accelerate Alliance.