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Employment has been one of the most significantly disrupted parts of Canadians' lives during the pandemic. Change was forced upon Canadian workers — yet they rose to meet the challenge with tenacity and creativity.

Nearly 200,000 Canadian small businesses began seriously contemplating shutting their doors for good in early 2021, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. This is in addition to the 58,000 businesses that had already closed since March 2020. All told, such closures were putting nearly 3,000,000 Canadian jobs in jeopardy.

But Canadians are resilient and resourceful. Showing tremendous grit and thoughtful reinvention when it comes to their employment, many Canadians managed to make ends meet during difficult times and moved into new — more fulfilling — career paths. In fact, a recent survey conducted by RBC indicates more than one-third of respondents are re-thinking their long-term career paths, and 35 per cent intend to learn new job skills.

Canadian entrepreneurship is climbing

Canadians started opening businesses at an exciting pace in 2020 and the early part of 2021. From side hustles to passion projects to tech start-ups, Canadians seized opportunities that emerged out of the pandemic, reacting to new trends, needs and business models.

According to the Ownr 2021 Entrepreneurship Report:

  • Ownr saw a 70% increase in new businesses during COVID-19, and 102% increase in incorporations.
  • 26% of new business owners said the pandemic created a gap in the market their new business addresses.
  • 20% struck out on their own because their industry was at risk. Layoffs and the need for supplemental income were also catalysts for new businesses.
  • The online marketplace Etsy, popular for side businesses, saw new shop openings increase by more than 250 per cent year over year.

Many of these new owners had previously been hesitant to start a business because of the perceived risks involved; however, the uncertainty and impacts of the pandemic meant the leap from employment to entrepreneurship became less daunting.

Learning is on the rise

As Canadians found their employment at risk, many workers took the opportunity to learn something new — whether as a means of boosting job skills or to start a completely new journey. Enrolment in online programs offered through platforms such as Coursera, Alison and Udemy surged as people looked to fill skills gaps, shift career paths or nurture lifelong passions.

Self-assessment is surging

With the disruption, Canadians reevaluated their careers and where they wanted to be. An online survey of 3,000 Canadians released by Morneau Shepell in November 2020 found 24 per cent were considering changing careers. Career coaches found themselves busier than ever as they helped people carve out new paths based on passion and purpose.

For many Canadians who previously felt stuck in a job that was just paying the bills, an opportunity to try something new emerged — a silver lining of personal growth and reinvention.

Considering a career change or starting your own business? An RBC advisor can help you navigate these shifts so you can approach your new path with confidence.

When you're ready, book an RBC Check In with an advisor today.