Feds, province foresee labour shortage

B.C. premier Christy Clark and federal minister Jason Kenney spoke at the 2014 State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo this week.

Jason Kenney

Too many job openings is a better problem to have than the alternative, said the premier, but it’s a problem, and one that’s being discussed.

B.C. premier Christy Clark and Jason Kenney, the federal minister of employment and social development, both talked about the coming labour shortage during speeches at the 2014 State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo this week.

“A lot of folks say that … this is just a fiction of the imagination of businesses, who are inventing a labour shortage as an argument to defend keeping wages down. And I think nothing could be further from the truth,” said Kenney on Thursday afternoon at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. “In certain sectors and regions, there are real skills gaps and real labour shortages. And with the aging of the population, those will only get worse.”

Clark said next year in B.C., there will be fewer young people entering the work force than older people retiring. Her government foresees a million job openings by 2022, two-thirds of those driven by retirements.

“We have to keep up with that and the only way we’ll do that is by making sure that British Columbians have the skills that they need to fill those jobs,” she said.

She said the province’s ministry of jobs, tourism and skills training has mapped out how many jobs will be needed in each sector, month by month, year by year, and is preparing accordingly. Clark mentioned recent investments in post-secondary trade programs that have cut wait lists, and talked about re-thinking secondary school programming.

Kenney said he’s pleased with the province’s skills training strategy, and said Canada could learn from successful trades training around the world. He said in countries like Germany and Switzerland, trades people finish their apprenticeships when they’re 19 years old.

“They graduate with a certificate that is regarded as having the same social and economic value as a university academic degree,” Kenney said. “They are not wasting their potential if they go into an apprenticeship or trade or vocation, they are realizing their potential.”

He expressed concern that private skills training is on the decline nationwide.

“We must see an increase by orders of magnitude in private-sector investments in job training,” Kenney said. “This isn’t to scold businesses, it’s to say, let’s work in partnership.”

Immigration will be linked to filling the labour gap, the minister added. Canada needs a “fast, flexible, demand-driven system that’s labour-market related,” he said, and pointed to a new program called the express entry system which will begin in January. Prospective immigrants will make their expressions of interest and employers will be able to search that database. The government will process applications in a matter of months instead of years, Kenney said.

He agreed that the coming labour shortage could be felt more deeply in smaller communities if there becomes competition to attract workers. The minister said he has already talked to mid-Island companies about the number of youths leaving the region for high-paying jobs in northern Alberta.

“There is more competition and opportunities for you to move around the country,” Kenney said. “Which is why it’s important to have strong industries and private-sector economic growth and investments in places like Vancouver Island, like in Nanaimo.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Firefighters put out structure fire on Dockside Way in Nanaimo

Incident happened just after 5 p.m. in detached building close to house

Nanaimo sheep farmer voices fears over flung dog feces

Deborah Wytinck worries parasites in dog feces tossed into pasture could infect her sheep

UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP now unsure what vehicle missing teen and man may be travelling in

Mary Cyprich, 17, missing since Thurday, believed to be in company of Force Forsythe, 36

Nanaimo school district to develop learning plan to account for COVID-19

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district superintendent advises parents keep kids at home

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: One-percenters can help in COVID-19 crisis

Letter writer hopes to reach the hearts of those who are well-off financially

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam, cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Most Read