Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Industrial Summary

Information, Culture and Telecommunications Services

NAICS 5111-5112; 5121-5122; 5151-5152; 5171-5179; 5182; 5191

This industry is composed of six segments: publishing (newspapers, magazines, books and software); motion picture and sound recording (movies, videos, television programs, commercials, music recording); radio and television broadcasting (radio and TV networks, including pay and specialty channels); telecommunications (providing telephone, television and Internet services through wireline, co-axial cable, fibre optic, wireless and satellite technologies); data processing, hosting and related services (web hosting, video and audio streaming services); and other information services (publishing or broadcasting content on the Internet, web search portals). Production and employment is distributed quite unevenly across the six segments. Telecommunications services are the largest segment, accounting for 60% of production and 33% of employment in 2016, making this segment the most capital intensive. In comparison, motion picture and sound recording accounted for only 7% of production but 26% of employment, making this segment the most labour intensive. Publishing services accounted for 17% of production and 19% of employment, compared to 16% and 22% respectively for the remaining three segments. Overall, the industry employed 358,100 workers in 2016, largely concentrated in Ontario (41%), Quebec (23%) and British Columbia (17%), with men accounting for the majority of the workforce (61%). Given the wide variety of activities, key occupations (4-digit NOC) include a mix of:

  • Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations (5131)
  • Telecom. installation and repair workers (7246)
  • Library assistants and clerks (1451)
  • Graphic designers and illustrators (5241)
  • User support technicians (2282)
  • Information systems analysts and consultants (2171)
  • Telecommunication carriers managers (0131)
  • Computer programmers and interative media developers (2174)
  • Journalists (5123)
  • Support occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting, photography, performing arts (5227)
  • Audio and video recording technicians (5225)
  • Editors (5122)
  • Computer engineers (2147)
  • Computer network technicians (2281)
  • Couriers, messengers and door-to-door distributors (1513)
  • Computer and information systems managers (0213)
  • Telecommunications line and cable workers (7245)
  • Other technical and co-ordinating occ. in motion pictures, broadcasting and performing arts (5226)
  • Film and video camera operators (5222)
  • Announcers and other broadcasters (5231)
  • Software engineers and designers (2173)
  • Managers - publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting and performing arts (0512)
  • Librarians (5111)
  • Cable television service and maintenance technicians (7247)
  • Graphic arts technicians (5223)
  • Library and public archive technicians (5211)
  • Broadcast technicians (5224)

Digital technologies have transformed the ways information and cultural products are produced, distributed and consumed, and telecommunications services providers are playing an increasing role in making these products accessible to the public. Basically, the industry is heavily reliant on consumer spending and businesses expenditures in Canada, making it sensitive to fluctuations in domestic economic conditions. After experiencing a slight decline during the recession of 2008-2009, output increased at a solid pace in the subsequent three years. However, production in the industry stalled from 2013 to 2016, primarily reflecting the ongoing transition toward the digital economy. Growth in telecommunications services was constrained by the decline in the use of wireline phones at home, the maturity of the wireless segment, and changing TV viewing habits toward online content (such as Netflix), which has weighed on paid-TV subscriptions (such as cable, fibre optic or satellite TV). Output in radio and television broadcasting was significantly lowered by the consumers’ shift toward audio and video streaming (such as Spotify and YouTube) and the resulting decline in advertising expenditures in traditional media in favour of digital platforms. The transition toward digital media has also reduced demand for printed materials (newspapers, magazines, books), lowering advertising revenues and economic activity in the traditional publishing segment as well. Those factors were compensated by solid growth in smaller segments, notably motion picture and sound recording and other information services (which include Internet publishing and broadcasting). The resulting pace of growth in the industry’s real GDP averaged a modest 0.5% annually over the period 2007-2016, with most of the growth occuring prior to 2013. While the advent of digital technologies clearly restrained output growth in the industry, the impact was even more pronounced for employment, which fell at an average rate of 1.0% per year over the past decade. During that period, the traditional publishing and radio-television broadcasting segments lost 23,000 jobs due to the declining trend in their respective output, while the telecommunications segment lost 37,000 jobs, partly reflecting the fact that a large part of their customer services operations was outsourced to external call centres. Telecommunications firms have also invested heavily in their information systems, which resulted in robust productivity gains. In turn, the growing number of tasks being automated has reduced demand for less skilled workers. On the other hand, rapid output growth in motion picture and sound recording since 2012 has led to the creation of 26,000 jobs in the past four years only. These sizable gains were largely supported by new technologies and digital platforms which have significantly reduced the costs associated with the production and distribution of audio and video content. This segment has also benefited from the recent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, which has increased Canada’s competitiveness as a location for the shooting of foreign movies and TV series, particularly American productions.

Over the projection period, output growth in the industry is expected to accelerate significantly relative to the period 2007-2016, primarily driven by stronger demand for online content, wireless data and faster broadband Internet. More specifically, the shift in the distribution and consumption of information and cultural products toward digital media will continue to stimulate the demand for Internet publishing and broadcasting as well as audio and video streaming, boosting growth in the data processing, hosting and other information services segments of the industry. The telecommunications segment is also expected to expand at a faster pace, driven by robust demand from both consumers and businesses for wireless data and faster broadband Internet due to the growing need for cloud computing, unified communications and cyber security solutions. Renewed growth anticipated in both corporate profits and investment in machinery and equipment (including investment in information and communication technologies) is an additional factor expected to boost business spending on telecommunications services. The next generation of wireless networks is nearly a reality, with deployment of 5G technologies starting in 2020, allowing self-driving cars and Internet of Things (IoT) applications to become mainstream and creating new market opportunities for telecommunications services providers. Furthermore, the multiplication of online platforms for audio and video content should continue to drive solid output and employment growth in the motion picture and sound recording segment, while the persitent weakness anticipated in the value of the Canadian dollar will maintain Canada’s competitiveness as a location for the production of American movies and TV series. On the negative side, the traditional publishing and radio-television broadcasting segments are expected to keep contracting, albeit at a slower pace than the past decade. Both segments should eventually reach a new equilibrium following the significant disruptions caused by the digital revolution. On average, the industry’s real GDP is projected to increase by 1.7% annually over the period 2017-2026, a notable acceleration relative to the previous ten years. Faster output growth is expected to result in a partial recovery in employment, with job creation averaging 0.6% per year. The telecommunications segment, which represents the backbone of all activities powered by Internet connectivity, is expected to add new positions moving forward, particularly in areas requiring high skills such as IT professionals and data scientists. However, a significant part of production growth in the industry is projected to be met by additional gains in productivity, powered by rapid advancement in digital technologies and the fact that telecommunication services, the largest segment of the industry, are highly capital intensive.

Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Information, Culture and Telecommunications Services

Figure showing the annual growth of real GDP and employment over the periods 2007-2016 and 2017-2026 for the industry of Information, Culture and Telecommunications Services. The data is shown on the table following this figure

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).

Text Version of Figure Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Information, Culture and Telecommunications Services, 2007-2016 and 2017-2026, in Percent
  Real GDP Employment
2007-2016 0.5 -1.0
2017-2026 1.7 0.6

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).


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