top of page

Peculiarly Precarious Careers Of The 21st Century

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that more than one in five Canadians are working in precarious jobs, according to a report released last year. And there is a higher incidence of people aged 55 and up in such roles.

CCPA-Ontario senior researcher, Ricardo Tranjan says, “We tend to think of precarious work as something that happens in low-wage, low-skill jobs, but the findings from this national survey suggest that there is no safe harbour.” Tranjan continues,

“Highly educated professionals

are experiencing economic insecurity

and unstable working conditions.”

In the past, people could realistically expect to find meaningful, long-term employment soon after finishing school. Automation, industrial decline, and changes to the labour laws are just some of the reasons for the recent change.

In many cases, careers that were once thought of as stable have become more precarious.

Losing a job is a traumatic experience that could have far-reaching consequences on a person’s life. It could lead to significant strain, not only on personal finances but also on a person’s mental health and relationships. It also adds new challenges to many societal issues, including homelessness.

Here are 8 peculiarly precarious careers of the 21st century...


Most people believe teaching to be a stable profession with a good salary and generous benefits. It can be, if you can find work. There is a surplus of teachers entering the workforce. The decline of the birthrate and strain on public finances have led to many school closures, which has further added to the difficulty. Many professionals resort to supply teaching in the hopes of finding a permanent position. Finding such a role could take years, if at all.

Retail Sales

Retailers have been hit hard by the advent of online shopping. While never exactly high-paying, retail sales and cashier jobs used to be a-dime-a-dozen, with many people holding down more than one retail job at a time. In recent years, the retail industry has been decimated by layoffs and closures, as more people turn to online retailers for their shopping needs.


Everyone has read the headlines about automotive factories closing. Technological change, combined with a decline of sales have forced companies to lay-off workers. A job on the assembly line was once coveted. These jobs were often unionized, with many companies offering good hourly rates, generous benefits and pensions, and even employee discounts.


The internet has rocked the media industry. Digitalization has made it faster and easier for people to access information. With much of the information being given away for free, traditional media outlets have found it hard to maintain revenue let alone grow. Media companies everywhere have laid off workers, shuttered offices and sold off assets to stem the losses.

Postal Carriers

Technology has also decimated the postal services. People are sending fewer letters through the mail. For that reason, fewer workers are needed to sustain the business. Offices are being closed, home-delivery is being phased out and postal services are resorting to other means of making money.


The world is going digital which means, in theory, people will have less of a reason to walk into a library. Many books are now available in a digital format. In addition, technology has also made it as such that less workers are needed at the checkout desk, meaning less jobs. While, libraries should continue to be used for other means like literacy programs, it does look like the change is now irreversible.

Bank Tellers

Also impacted by technological change are bank tellers. The internet has made it easier for people to do many tasks online making the job of a bank teller increasingly unnecessary. Many bank transactions are also done remotely, requiring less labour and time, which means there are fewer reasons to even enter a bank.


The increase in people entering post-secondary education should conceivably increase demand for instructors. However, the reality is more complicated. The rise in the number of people entering post-graduate programs has made this a highly competitive field. Many schools have begun to change or even phase out tenure, with more Professors working contract or part-time.




Our Weather-Ready Care Kits

include items vital to surviving the extreme weather of every season.

From cold & damp to hot & humid.


Your monthly donation

means year-long support

for elder homeless men.


bottom of page