Robots are coming for our jobs.
And while U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to address the decline in manufacturing by renegotiating trade deals and rolling back regulations, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to tackle the rise of the machines head on.
Trudeau answered a question about the impact of automation on the social network Quora.
He wrote that job losses from automation are inevitable, but Canada will try to prepare citizens for new jobs that can survive in the technology age.
"We know that the job market is changing, and instead of resisting in vain, we’re focused on funding research and innovation, like in AI and quantum computing, that’ll help lead the change here in Canada," he wrote in the Quora response. "And while we do that, we’re preparing Canadians to find good jobs through investments in education and training."
He gave a brief outline of the Innovation and Skills Plan included in Canada's 2017 budget.
The plan aims to make it easier for unemployed Canadians on the Employment Insurance program to get job training. The budget will provide $132.4 million over four years so that unemployed Canadians can train for a better job without losing their employment insurance benefits. Trudeau said the plan will also expand grants and interest free loans for parents who want to go back to school, and create "work-integrated learning placements" for students to transition more easily from school to the workforce.
The Innovation and Skills Plan also includes a focus on funding research that will "identify skill gaps with employers," and look for new ways to train the Canadian workforce for the future, according to the government's fact sheet on the plan.
Meanwhile, Trump's plan for job growth is bringing back coal and manufacturing jobs.
Trump, on the campaign trail and since he took office, has promised to bring back working class jobs to the United States. However, a significant number of the manufacturing jobs Trump talked about disappeared because of automation, not solely because the jobs moved to other countries.
"Overwhelmingly, the largest impact is productivity," wrote the researchers behind a 2015 study from Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research. "Almost 88 percent of job losses in manufacturing in recent years can be attributable to productivity growth, and the long-term changes to manufacturing employment are mostly linked to the productivity of American factories."
Trump also promised to bring back coal industry jobs by stripping environmental regulations that the industry opposes. However, a CEO of one of the largest private coal companies in the U.S. said that lost coal jobs probably won't come back, regardless of the changes the Trump administration wants to make.
“I suggested that he temper his expectations,” Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, told The Guardian in a March 27 article. “Those are my exact words. He can’t bring them back."
The Trump administration has also signaled policies that could make going back to school to prepare for new jobs less attractive.
The Department of Education sent a letter to collection agencies in March allowing them to once again add fees to student loan borrowers' outstanding balances in collections. Obama-era protections had previously ended that practice. Also, the New York Times reported on March 30, that new guidance from the Department of Education suggests some public servants who previously qualified for loan forgiveness may not qualify anymore.
Natalia Abrams, the executive director of Student Debt Crisis, said that the status of eligibility for public servants is now vague.
“It’s kind of a no man’s land,” Abrams told The Times. “We don’t know how this will pan out.”