Health care and technology will be among the top five job-generating fields in British Columbia over the next decade, according to a labour force study predicting a total of more than one million job opportunities.
The New Democrat government’s 10-year Labour Market Outlook says about 50 per cent of vacancies will be in the top five sectors, which will also include retail, construction and education.
“Currently, there are more job vacancies than there are people to fill them,” said Selina Robinson, post-secondary education and future skills minister, at a news conference on Wednesday at a Victoria-area college.
“The biggest challenge we’ve been hearing from businesses is the need for people,” she said. “Global labour shortages are having a big impact here in B.C.”
The outlook forecasts that 37 per cent of job openings will result from economic growth, while 63 per cent will be because of retirements, Robinson said.
The government plans to introduce programs and initiatives to make sure people have the skills and support to take advantage of the vacancies, she said.
Opposition Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said he has deep concerns about the government’s capability of providing the training, people and proper climate to take on the challenge of more than one million jobs.
“I look at that and say we’ve got a crisis coming,” he said. “It’s going to require real focus and determination and management by government to ensure we get ahead of this. This is a huge challenge for a government that hasn’t, frankly, demonstrated much capacity for being able to plan ahead and think ahead.”
The government used its throne speech on Monday to introduce a program to support accessible and affordable skills training.
“We think of it as making B.C. future ready, a province with a plan to remove barriers and make post-secondary education and training more accessible, more affordable and relevant,” said Robinson.
“Our collective prosperity will always depend on the people of B.C. and growing a skilled workforce that can provide the goods and services we need to build a stronger B.C.”
The outlook said almost 80 per cent of job openings over the next decade will require some level of post-secondary education or training, Robinson said.
She said people in B.C. want solid, meaningful jobs for themselves and their children.
“They want to live full lives in a sustainable, prosperous province,” Robinson said. “They know the economy is changing and they want to have the tools to be ready for the changes that come.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2023.