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Half of Canadian employees unprepared to use AI: Deloitte

By DE Staff   

Automation AI Deloitte

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

A new Deloitte Canada report shows 80 per cent of Canadian leaders believe the country’s current and future prosperity hinges on effectively addressing global disruptions

New research from Deloitte’s Future of Canada Centre (FCC) explores how four major global disruptions are impacting Canada’s ability to thrive: the race to net-zero, AI revolution, talent transformation, and geopolitical uncertainty.

Capitalizing on the immense opportunity of AI requires first equipping workers with the skills to use it effectively. The report’s survey findings show 48 per cent of Canadian business leaders feel their employees are not prepared or barely prepared to use AI, while only five per cent say their workers are “very prepared.”

The report, Global disruptions in 4D: Exploring intersecting forces impacting Canada’s future, looks not only at the disruptions, but at their intersections, and the opportunities and challenges they pose for Canada.

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In an environment of geopolitical uncertainty, the race for AI sovereignty and leadership is heating up. Canada is vying to lead globally in the AI economy, but risks falling behind when it comes to influencing global standards and using AI to improve Canada’s productivity.

“The imperative to act is massive,” says Jas Jaaj, managing partner of AI and data at Deloitte Canada. “There is not a country out there that isn’t doubling down on AI strategy, making significant investments, and moving down the path of execution. We have a golden opportunity to educate, invest and close the productivity gap we have been grappling with for years.”

The report also looks at the intersection between the race to net-zero and geopolitical uncertainty, as well as further challenges facing Canada’s workforce in the context of the net-zero transition.

For example, making progress on net-zero emissions goals means also being aware of the potential for geopolitical conflict to rupture the supply chains that bring in the goods critical to the energy transition. The report cites that 64 per cent of businesses’ ability to operate was impacted by supply chain disruptions.

Equally, reaching Canada’s net-zero goals will require equipping our workforce with the skills they need, while ensuring everyone is able to benefit from the opportunities of a net-zero future. Among Canadian business leaders, 62 per cent face a persistent and long-term shortage of skills amongst existing employees.

The report provides actionable recommendations to businesses and governments to address the disruptions and their impacts on Canada. Among them include the need to stem localized brain drain of Canada’s considerable AI talent, to adopt Canadian inspired and built AI technology, and to implement a comprehensive net-zero workforce strategy.

Promisingly, the research shows that Canada is well-placed to lead and thrive amid these disruptions, with one of the most highly educated workforces of G7 nations and the tools to secure a critical spot on the global supply chain for both AI and net-zero resources.

“We have everything we need to navigate these intersections, from a diverse talent pool to abundant natural resources to a world-leading AI ecosystem,” Viel says. “Now, our leaders need the courage and foresight to use these strengths to advance our country in the right direction—and to not only withstand but also flourish in an era of perpetual change.”

More than 800 managers and executives across Canada were surveyed by Deloitte’s Future of Canada Centre for this report. Respondents included representatives from organizations of varying sizes and economic sectors, as well as governments and other public sector entities. Eight roundtables and one flagship symposium with CEOs and directors from across the country were also held to inform this work. The roundtables took place in cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Saint John and Halifax.

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