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the Centre for Learning, Social Economy and Work at OISE, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

Welcome to the "Changing Workplaces in a Knowledge Economy" (CWKE) Project webpage. The CWKE project is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and led by Dr. D.W. Livingstone (University of Toronto) with collaborators Dr. Tracey Adams (University of Western Ontario) and Dr. Peter Sawchuk (University of Toronto). Below find a summary and links to recent project publications. 


Canadian workplaces are widely assumed to have changed greatly in the past three decades in reponse to rapidly diffusing information technologies and globalizing markets. But there are four important questions that beg to be answered with direct evidence:

(1) To what extent has the occupational structure of employment changed?

(2) How well are the skills of the general labour force being used in this occupational structure?

(3) How well are the skills of professionals being used as key contributors to the development of a knowledge economy?

(4) As a leading case, how well are the skills of engineers being used?

The objective of the CWKE project research is to provide clear answers to these four questions and aid the development of more effective employment and training policies.

To do this we have conducted a national general labour force survey (N=3000) of working conditions and skill use. Building directly on these survey findings, we have also conducted comprehensive case studies of Ontario engineers and nurses involving oral history, provincial survey and in depth interview methods. Each are widely regarded as highly strategic to the development of a knowledge economy. They are ideal for detailed study of the occupational class make-up and skill use of professionals because they are employed in diverse organizational settings and recent research is highly divided on how effectively their skills are now being utilized.

The new national survey coupled with trend analyses using the few comparable prior national surveys and more in-depth studies of professionals, and engineers in particular, will permit unique insights into the extent of change in the general occupational class structure, the extent of general skill use/under-utilization, and the recognition of specialized skills. This project will provide essential benchmarks for future research and policy. In this period widely claimed to be transformative of relations between work demands and training requirements, this evidence will be of vital aid for policy-making aimed at improving job design, occupational training, and optimal use of the general and specialized skills of the Canadian labour force.

For more information: Professor D.W. Livingstone (dwlivingstone@gmail.com)

Recent Publications

Changing Workplaces in a Knowledge Economy (CWKE) Project Overview

CWKE Project 2016 CSA Conference Paper (Adams_Livingstone_Sawchuk)

The Growing Gap Between Post Secondary Schooling and Further Education (Livingstone_Raykov)

The Changing Employment Class Structure and the Pivotal Role of Professional Employees in a 'Knowledge Economy': Canada, 1982-2016 (Livingstone_Watts_CSA conference paper 2017)

Professions, Hybrid Professionalism and Internal Stratification: Evidence on Canadian Engineers (Adams_CSA conference paper 2017)

Professions, Working and Knowing: Class Conflict and Contested Hybridization among Ontario Nurses (Sawchuk_CSA conference paper 2017)

The Changing Nature of Professional Work and Professional Knowledge: A Case Study of Canadian Nurses and Engineers (Adams_Sawchuk_ISA conference paper 2017)

Polarization of Professionals? Class Analysis of Job Control in an Emergent 'Knowledge Economy' (Livingstone_Sawchuk_Adams_RWL conference paper 2017)

Dialectical Materialist Methodologies for Researching Work, Learning, Change: Implications for Class Consciousness (Sawchuk_RWL conference paper 2017)

The Great Licensure Assumption: Erosion of Closure in the Canadian Engineering Profession (Klassen_RWL conference paper 2017)

Tipping Point for Teachers? Changing working conditions and continuing learning in a 'knowledge economy' (DW Livingstone_International Journal of Lifelong Education 2018)

 Learning, Knowledge and Technology within the Meta-Orthodox Proletarianization of Nursing in Ontario (Sawchuk_CSA 2019)

 Are Changes in Professionals' Work Environments Altering their Skills and Knowledge? (Adams_CSA 2019) 

 Underemployment of Highly Qualified Labour in Advanced Capitalism: Trends and Prospects (DW Livingstone_CSA 2019)


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