Businesses in British Columbia is relying on a shrinking pool of workers from across Canada and around the world to meet the need for skilled labour. Businesses are increasingly finding it difficult to fill positions and find skilled labour, and shortages are expected to worsen due to the retirement of the baby boomer generation. According to a labour-market study released from B.C.’s research universities, the tipping point – where the number of jobs in B.C. will exceed the number of qualified workers – is in 2019.
2019 marks a turning point within the construction industry in British Columbia, where thousands of skilled labourers and tradespeople will be needed for several multibillion-dollar construction projects that will be underway. Over the next two years, depending on when the various construction schedules peak, an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 workers will be needed in B.C. for three major projects: Site C dam, LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink pipeline. Construction industry organization BuildForce Canada has estimated 17,000 non-residential construction jobs could be needed in B.C. between 2019 and 2021, if all the major projects proposed were to move ahead on schedule.
In the 2018 CPABC Business Outlook Survey, 85% if BC CPA respondents indicated that the ability to attract and retain skilled labour is a key hindrance to business success. In the latest edition of WorkBC’s B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook, the province is forecasting that there will be 903,000 job openings between now and 2028 to fill roles vacated by retirees, as well as new positions. It will be particularly challenging from 2019 through 2021 when demand for construction services peaks and demand for skilled workers exceeds supply.
For BC’s economy to grow sustainability, its workforce needs to be versatile and have the skills that employers require, both in the short and long-term. This is why it is imperative that the province, employers, recruitment agencies and post-secondary institutions work together to build sustainable long-term strategies that meet the needs of our current and future economy.