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B.C. labour outlook forecasts 1M job openings over next decade

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Those looking for jobs in our province may be in luck -- as the government projects a million job openings in the next decade, and the biggest demand will be for health-care and technology workers.

The latest B.C. Labour Market Outlook shows the employment in the province is expected to reach 3.1 million by 2032, after adding 1,017,000 job openings over the course of a decade.

According to the 2022 forecast, which was released Wednesday, employment will rise by 1.3 per cent annually over the course of a decade—in large part due to growth in the health care and tech sectors, as well as higher immigration levels.

It's good and bad news, said Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills Minister Selina Robinson.

"The biggest challenge that we've been hearing from businesses is the need for people," she explained.

Even with immigrants and other Canadians moving to the province, there's still an eight percent gap to be made up. That's not great news for businesses already facing labour shortages.

The outlook shows of those million job openings over the next decade, roughly two-thirds will be due to retirements. Health care and tech workers will be in the highest demand and 80 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education.

In a technical briefing, staff told reporters that by about 2030 net natural population growth is expected to be zero percent. Meaning not enough people will be born in B.C. to fill the jobs.

She acknowledged immigration would need to be a key part of the strategy. Roughly 40 per cent of the jobs are expected to be filled by immigrants.

"This why we have the Provincial Nominee Program it's why we continually engage with the federal government. Of course, they're responsible for immigration. We're continually reminding them about what our needs are."

Robinson added work was also underway to help those here get jobs. She pointed to a provincial strategy to increase network connectivity, to provide affordable childcare, and faster credentialing for those already here. In addition, she said the government knows it must increase training spaces.

Liberal leader Kevin Falcon told reporters he's concerned the province won't be able to attract the required workers.

"We know that in the health-care sector that 123,000 people are required over the next 10 years. The NDP is in their second term, they only recently— in the last six months – they only just recently talked about expanding the training spaces for medical doctors in British Columbia," he said.

If people do come to the province, housing is in short supply and one in five British Columbians doesn't have a family doctor.

The forecast highlights how shifting demographics will impact B.C.’s labour market. Higher federal immigration targets, for example, added 41,000 workers to the province between 2021-2022.

People new to Canada are expected to fill 38 per cent of openings by 2032, with workers from other parts of the country forecast to fill 8 per cent of available positions.

Mid-career professionals, who tend to be Millennials, are the fastest growing demographic of workers, according to the LMO. “This group will need to be supported during career transitions through responsive re-skilling,” reads the forecast summary.

People aged 29 or younger who are entering the labour force for the first time are expected to fill nearly half of all job openings, or 47 per cent.

According to the province, jobs will open up across the province, with the most populous region, the south coast, leading the way.

  • Mainland/southwest: 654,600 job openings
  • Vancouver Island/coast: 176,700 job openings
  • Thompson-Okanagan: 120,000 job openings
  • Kootenay: 21,900 job openings
  • Cariboo: 18,500 job openings
  • North Coast and Nechako: 15,400 job openings
  • Northeast: 9,700 job openings

The most in-demand jobs requiring a degree are as follows, according to the Labour Market Outlook.

  • Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
  • Information systems analysts and consultants
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • Diploma/certificate, excluding apprenticeship:
  • Retail and wholesale trade managers
  • Administrative officers
  • Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
  • Apprenticeship certificate:
  • Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers
  • Hairstylists and barbers
  • Contractors and supervisors, heavy-equipment operator crews
  • High school and/or occupation-specific training:
  • Retail sales supervisors
  • Restaurant and food-service managers
  • Longshore workers

For those with trades experience, the biggest demand will be for:

  • Cooks
  • Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers
  • Construction trades helpers and labourers
  • Hairstylists and barbers
  • Carpenters
  • Heavy equipment operators (except crane)
  • Electricians (except industrial and power system)
  • Painters and decorators (except interior decorators)
  • Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
  • Bakers
  • Welders and related machine operators
  • Plumbers
  • Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
  • Motor vehicle body repairers
  • Industrial electricians

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