Over 30% of Indigenous workers at "high risk" of losing jobs to automation: report

Jul 14 2020, 10:15 pm

Indigenous workers across a variety of industries may be at higher risk than their counterparts for having those positions eliminated by automation.

According to a report released by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, approximately 250,000 jobs held by Indigenous workers are at high risk of
automation over 33 industries.

Using wage data, the council says the top five industries alone represent 131,000 positions held by Indigenous people and accounts for approximately $2.43 billion of Indigenous revenue. The CCAB says that Indigenous people generate a combined household income of approximately $30 billion a year. Were these positions to be eliminated entirely, it would represent an 8.1% loss to overall income.

The five industries where all workers face the most risk from automation are accommodation and food services; retail trade; construction; transportation and warehousing; and management, administrative, and other support roles.

Location plays a significant role when it comes to risk as well. Indigenous workers in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, and New Brunswick have the highest proportion of Indigenous workers currently employed in roles with a high risk of automation. While Indigenous workers in Nunavut, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, and Alberta are more at risk than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Ultimately, the CCAB felt more research is needed and recommends an in-depth analysis of Indigenous workers distribution in each industry to identify where they would be at increased risk from being phased out, an investigation into the social impact of job automation, estimating the cost of retraining workers, and estimating productivity gains made from automation.

“It is vitally important to understand what changes are coming to better prepare Indigenous business owners, workers, and policy-makers in this space for the risks and opportunities that come with automation for the Indigenous economy,” the report reads.

The CCAB says that the same study could be used to inform new paths for education and skills development across Indigenous communities and assist workers with filling documented skills gaps and reduce the increased risk of job loss faced by these workers. Noting that Indigenous students have a higher than average completion rate for college and trades training.

Peter SmithPeter Smith

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