Guest Blog: Workforce Trends to Watch in 2021

By Erin Lambertz posted 05-14-2021 07:22 AM

Tammy Kim-Newman joins us again in this month's Guest Blogger Series for DAA with research from the University of Waterloo on 2021 workforce trends.

The world of work is an ever-changing space and the changes that come with tackling global pandemic recovery mean new challenges for the workforce.
As we begin to imagine what recovery will look like, we’ll see some pre-pandemic workforce trends remain or even intensify. Research from Waterloo’s Work-Learn Institute (WxL) highlights four key trends:

1) By 2028, Millennials and Gen Z will be more than half (58%) of the workforce

Born between 1981 – 1996, Millennials are emerging leaders and an important source of change across all industries. Gen Z, which includes people born between 1996-2014, are quickly entering the workforce. However, employers often misunderstand their motivations and don’t recognize that their values are different than those of previous generations. Our research shows that understanding those values might be the most important thing you can do to effectively recruit, motivate and retain Gen Z and Millennial employees.

Values matter to Gen Z in the workplace. According to the WxL’s research almost half of Gen Z students are unlikely to accept a full-time job if it matches their skills but not their values. Learn more by reading our future workforce survey and management guide.

2) The Canadian workforce will be 33% international by 2036

A more global and diverse workforce presents new opportunities. To adapt, organizations must establish a more diverse, inclusive and equitable talent pipeline. Diversity strategies will focus on blind recruitment, unconscious bias training and looking beyond Canadian experience requirements for credentials.

Companies are committing to aggressive diversity targets. Over 30 companies like Amazon, General Motors and Target have shared their 2021 diversity reports and strategies to promote inclusive cultures.

3) By 2022, 133 million new jobs will be developed through AI
Technology is embedded in our daily lives. In response to the pandemic restrictions, everything that could be digitized was and nearly every business has become a tech business. As organizations figure out their digital strategies, they want people who are immersed in the skills required for digital work.

More than three-quarters (77%) of companies are hiring for roles today that didn’t exist a year ago. Small-and-medium sized businesses will have to compete with tech giants to recruit and retain talent. Consider upskilling your workforce by investing in early talent and reskill your current workforce to adapt to changing needs.

4) Of Canadian workers, 39% are in jobs they can do from home
Remote work is here to stay in some capacity. Whether businesses decide to get back to in-person, continue remote or a hybrid, we need to do remote work the right way. Equip your team with the tools they need to remain engaged.

According to a recent Microsoft study, Gen Z employees will be at a disadvantage because of lost networking and mentorship opportunities from remote work. Keep that in mind when thinking about your remote strategy. Here’s a great read on how to properly onboard young talent remotely.

With the right strategies in place to support the next generation in the workforce, businesses can succeed and tackle any upcoming challenges.

About the Author:
Tammy Kim-Newman is a business developer and tech talent specialist at the University of Waterloo, Canada’s #1 university for Computer Science, Mathematics and Engineering (Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings). She has 10+ years supporting industry partners with their early talent strategies and is an advocate for work-integrated learning. If you have questions about early tech talent recruitment strategies, please reach out to Tammy Kim-Newman.


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