One in five Canadian employees works at a job that’s vulnerable to automation. The clean economy is a rapid-growth sector that needs workers. Is there a way to solve for both?

Employees working high-risk, low-mobility (HRLM) jobs have few options to transition into lower-risk occupations without undergoing retraining.

Transitioning workers to the clean (or green) economy addresses multiple labour market challenges. It’s also timely, given the Canadian government’s focus on climate change and integrating clean technologies to meet global targets.

Rapid-growth clean economy jobs are a good opportunity

Most HRLM workers are willing to work in clean economy jobs. Nearly three-fourths of workers we surveyed responded positively when asked if they’d be willing to transition.

Workers want high-quality, long-lasting jobs they can take pride in. Any hesitancy in transitioning to the clean economy isn’t necessarily about the clean economy itself—it’s about whether these new jobs offer the same level of security as workers’ existing jobs.

The good news

Clean economy occupation pathways are open to nearly all workers with a HRLM occupation with sufficient retraining. But these transitions vary considerably by skillset, and the ability to transition is uneven across the provinces.

The opportunity

Given the transition barriers and the scale of the issue, employers, governments, and other stakeholders need to provide stronger support for re-skilling and up-skilling at-risk workers, and address career transition barriers.

Access research

Why is this research important?

High-risk occupations exist across provinces.

The green transition will create more job opportunities. But it will change the skills required in existing occupations.

As technology adoption increases, skills gaps will keep growing.

Barriers such as compensation and job security, come in the way of workers transitioning.

There is an opportunity to provide training and facilitate transitioning to other occupations, such as those in the clean economy.

As the pace of technology adoption increases, skills gaps will continue to grow as the desired mix of skills changes within and across occupations in the years to come.

Darren Gresch

Darren Gresch

Senior Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada

Recent releases

Two men in construction gear on roof of a house
How Governments and Agencies Can Build the Bridge to Clean Economy Careers

The clean economy is one of multiple rapidly growing sectors in Canada. In our investigation, we began by identifying industries that could be classified as green due to their central role in the transition. Then, we identified green occupations within those industries. To compare green and HRLM occupations, we developed a comprehensive inventory of skills, knowledge requirements, and wages. We estimated the years of training and skills acquisition required to move from the HRLM jobs to the green jobs.

Issue briefing  |  6-min read
July 28, 2022

Man at construction site
The Journey to Clean Economy Careers

These rapid-growth jobs align more closely with the future direction of the Canadian economy. Preparing workers to follow those paths—and encouraging them to take them—will be key near-term challenges for educational institutions, career counsellors, and funding agencies alike.

Summary for executives  |  5-min read
February 22, 2022

Man looking up at electrical tower
Green Occupation Pathways: From Vulnerable Jobs to Rapid-Growth Careers

The nature of work in Canada is changing. So is our climate. Can we alleviate both needs? Designing and implementing viable responses to automation requires a thorough understanding of the opportunities available to HRLM workers. Helping to transition these workers into highgrowth sectors of the economy is ideal (e.g., technology, cannabis, services). But policy responses that integrate with other public priorities will be the most effective and efficient.

Impact paper  |  23-min read
February 2, 2022

Spokesperson: Darren Gresch

About this study

The Conference Board of Canada, on behalf of the Future Skills Centre, is leading a study that explores the labour market impacts of automation in Canada.

FSC partners

In partnership with:

Toronto Metropolitan University
The Conference Board of Canada
Funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program

Related research

woman studying
A Path Forward: Job Transitions in Canada

Workers considering a career change need to better understand how to capitalize on their current skills, education, abilities, experience, and knowledge. Similarly, human resource professionals, educational institutions, and labour market policy-makers need a better sense of what skills, education, abilities, experience, and knowledge characteristics make someone more employable, today and in the future.

Impact paper  |  25-min read
March 16, 2021

woman studying
Modelling Job Transitions in Canada

Employment in Canada is going to look different in the future. The types of education, abilities, skills, and experiences that employers seek are evolving amid a confluence of forces reshaping the nature of work around the world. Disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics, unmanned vehicles, and the Internet of Things, the growing share of knowledge-based services, and the rise of technology-enabled platforms will reshape careers.

Primer  |  20-min read
March 16, 2021

OpprtuNext ad

For a deeper conversation on green occupations, please contact: Darren Gresch

Media Contacts

For all requests, including reports and interviews, please contact:



*From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET; after hours, please send an e-mail.

Woman examining data on computer

Access our research

Access to the Conference Board’s reports is free of charge to professional journalists upon request.

Access our experts

Our experts are available to share research insights. Contact us.