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

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

Just Posted

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

Most Read