3 - Enhancing the skills needed to succeed

Learn more about our recommendations for enhancing the skills needed to succeed, or click here to download the full report.

3.1 Understanding labour force needs, investing in workers’ skills

Ensuring workers are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to do their jobs is necessary to create good jobs. EV production brings with it new skill demands on workers that may affect and alter existing skillsets for autoworkers. Workers alone cannot bear the burden of navigating this shifting terrain. Governments must lead on skills tracking and training supports in collaboration with employers, unions and community partners.


  • Mapping and assessing the shifting skills demands for autoworkers resulting from evolving work processes as well as the steady shift to electric vehicle and parts production is a critical tool to manage this transition to net zero. Building an inventory of skills can assist stakeholders in identifying projected needs and existing gaps, assessing capacity and access issues as well as promoting training opportunities to workers.

    Provincial ministries responsible for professional education and training, along with Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees income assistance programs such as Employment Insurance, sector development funds and Canada’s Labour Market Information infrastructure, must take the lead in convening such a committee. This inventory may also assist in identifying and recruiting workers displaced from subsectors of the broader auto industry (e.g. parts distribution and vehicle dealerships), recruiting workers from other economic sectors facing transition pressures (e.g. oil and gas) and improving the delivery of relevant, high-quality technical and other essential skills training for workers.

3.2 Enhance Canada’s skilled trades

Canada needs skilled workers. Labour market forecasts predict severe trade shortages, both in the building and construction trades as well as within the auto sector. Rather than enhance skillsets, new technology can lead to disputes over jurisdiction, with employers claiming that new skills and work tasks fall outside a journeyperson’s responsibility. This approach threatens to erode the skill base of trades workers in the auto sector.


  • As the shift toward electrification and new Industry 4.0 work processes takes place, the pre-existing challenges of trades, attraction, retention and preservation, will rise to the surface. Governments, including provincial trades oversight bodies, must calibrate new skills such as 3D printing and scanning, virtual reality, simulation and robotics through Canada’s Red Seal certification framework or include these skills within expanded scopes of practice across existing trades.

    Red Seal Apprenticeship Program Registrations Annual, 2010-2020

    Red and blue bar graph of red seal apprenticeship registrations in Canada of industrial electricians and millwrights from 2010 to 2020.

    Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 37-10-0137-01

  • The speed at which Canada’s auto industry will transition to electric vehicle production and what that footprint looks like remains unclear. However, within a few years, the outlook on Canada’s auto industry future went from bleak50 to bright. A rapidly growing industry that is contributing to reduced GHG emissions and achieving Canada’s broader net zero ambitions, has a lot to offer a new generation of workers. Using this appeal as a launchpad to attract young workers into the skilled trades may greatly assist ongoing government and employer recruitment efforts.

    50 John McElroy, “Why Young People Shun Auto Industry” (August 28, 2014). Ward’s Auto: https://www.wardsauto.com/blog/why-young-people-shun-auto-industry