The latest labour market outlook for British Columbia shows nearly 80 per cent of job openings over the next decade will require some level of post-secondary education, reflecting the changing nature of the economy.
Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, said eight out of every 10 new openings in the next decade will require post-secondary education or skills training, which points to where the economy is headed and what is needed to get ready.
“When I talk to business owners and leaders, I hear the same message over and over again: a skill gap is looming,” he said at a news conference.
The outlook released Monday by the provincial government also forecasts more than one million job openings in the next 10 years, with about 63 per cent of those replacing people who retire.
The remaining 37 per cent of jobs will be created by economic growth and the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, says a news release from the Jobs Ministry.
Anne Kang, the minister of advanced education and skills training, said the skills gap needs to be addressed.
“We also know that there are approximately 150,000 people who could be working but are not working right now,” she said, adding that includes young parents who can’t find child care and people who decided to retire early during the pandemic.
The government is looking at providing daycare, skills retraining and affordable education to encourage those people to return to the workforce, she said.
Kahlon said Premier John Horgan is expected to release an economic plan next week, which will “outline a generational commitment to invest in people through skills, training, education” and supports including child care and housing.
The outlook shows the health care, social assistance and education sectors are expected to generate some of the largest employment in services, such as counselling, child protection and community housing. Science and technology jobs will also be in high demand, as will openings in skilled trades ranging from cooks and mechanics to construction workers and hairstylists.
Kahlon noted investment in housing is “critically important” as the province looks to fill job openings.
“We’re going to need to see that investment in housing and in child care and in infrastructure to go along with it.”
His ministry said people aged 29 or younger entering the workforce for the first time will make up the largest source of B.C.’s new labour supply, with new immigrants accounting for 34 per cent of workers.
Kang said the government is looking at fast-tracking skills recognition credentials for international workers and those who move from other provinces to help fill jobs.
Asked if people might be discouraged from applying for jobs in the health-care sector because of recent protests related to the pandemic, Kahlon said he understands that some might be hesitant because of the actions of a “fringe group.”
“I would say to anyone who’s young and up-and-coming or anyone who’s looking for a good career, there are huge opportunities in the care economy,” he said.
“Overwhelmingly, a majority of British Columbians and Canadians, we support our health-care workers, we support the incredibly important work that they do.”
— Hina Alam, The Canadian Press