That sign will hang outside British Columbia for the foreseeable future as the provincial government forecasts more than one million jobs to open up with the next decade.
The figure headlines the latest B.C. Labour Market Outlook, a 10-year forecast that helps governments, organizations, post-secondary institutions and businesses to support the workforce. Sixty-three per cent of all openings are expected to come from retirements, the rest from economic growth.
Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills Selina Robinson joined Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation Brenda Bailey and Minister of State for Workforce Development Andrew Mercier at Camosun College in Victoria to present the new figures.
Survey after survey finds labour — or the lack thereof — one of the central challenges facing B.C. businesses and the economy, a point Robinson acknowledged.
“Currently, there are more job vacancies than there are people (to fill them),” she said.
While labour shortages are evident across all sectors, others are worse.
The restaurant industry, a key part of the provincial tourism industry, is hungry for workers and the shortage of truck drivers in B.C. has jammed up commercial supply chains. A shortage of nurses and doctors have strained the public health care system, especially in rural and remote areas, while school districts are turning toward non-certified teachers to fill teacher shortages. Large shortages also exist in the skilled trades with an expected 83,000 job openings.
Cooks; automotive service technicians; truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers; construction trades helpers and labourers; hairstylists and barbers; and carpenters led the occupations with the highest projected openings over the next decade.
The provincial government expects to fill 38 per cent of the openings with immigrants and eight per cent with workers coming from other parts of Canada.
Robinson acknowledged that the federal government is responsible for immigration, but said that B.C. will continue to work with Ottawa on expanding the provincial nominee program.
“We need to make sure that we continue to attract that immigrant population,” she said, pointing to provincial efforts to make it easier for immigrants to get their credentials recognized and to lobby Ottawa about B.C.’s labour needs.
She acknowledged that B.C. faces the hurdle of the expensive housing, and listed steps being taken to increase the supply. But she added B.C. also remains an attractive place for new arrivals because of available opportunities and services.
Most of the expected job openings will be in the Lower Mainland with 654,600 openings, followed by Vancouver Island with 176,700 and the Thompson-Okanagan with 120,000.
Bailey said opportunities will exist in every part of the province and across occupations and Robinson said the report allows government to invest resources into training, pointing to programming announced during Monday’s throne speech.
The Conference Board of Canada estimates that skills deficits have already cost B.C. up to $4.7 billion in foregone GDP and $616 million in tax revenues.