Labour shortage for Asia Pacific Gateway?
By Andrew Macklin
November 2, 2015 – A new labour market forecast released shows increasing challenges ahead in key occupations in B.C. in the next five to 10 years.
The Asia Pacific Gateway Labour Market Information study looked at 56 occupations in the construction, rail, trucking, marine, managers, logistics and air sectors, and occupations that support the multiple sectors, all of which are critical to support B.C.’s growth and its ability to meet the labour demands of the Asia Pacific Gateway.
While the forecast focused on five and 10-year horizons (2015-2024), it found that tight labour conditions are expected to take hold even sooner across all sectors in the first three years of the forecast, and remain for most of the next decade.
The primary factor causing the tight labour market is the number of new workers not keeping pace with job openings. More than 46,000 new jobs are expected by 2024 in the occupations studied. Compounded by ongoing retirement of the baby boom generation, almost 160,000 job openings will need to be filled over the next 10 years.
It is anticipated that people new to the workforce will make up about 40 per cent of the new supply of workers, and a further 25 per cent will be made up of workers new to the country.
“The study puts hard numbers on specific challenges employers will face with the labour market, across a multitude of occupations,” said John Beckett, vice-president of training, safety and recruitment with the B.C. Maritime Employers’ Association and chair of the study’s Project Committee. “Employers need a well-trained and resilient workforce, and integrating workers who are new to the workforce or new to the country will be critical. Industry is beginning to recognize this challenge, and adapt to the new reality of recruiting, training, and retaining skilled workers.”
The forecast is developed based on quantitative and qualitative information from industry and government, and is a valuable tool for employers to assist with their staffing and resource planning.
“We’re pleased that our research allowed us to zero in on unique regional challenges,” noted Krista Bax, executive director, Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table. “Northern B.C. faces a tighter labour market than the Lower Mainland, and with a number of large-scale projects anticipated for the North, identifying potential sources of supply – in this case the 60 per cent of new supply coming from new entrants – helps employers plan for the significant impact retirements will have on that region.”
Individual reports will be available for each of the 56 occupations, and seven sectors in Northern B.C., the Lower Mainland, and B.C. as a whole, providing an unprecedented level of detail on these occupations. The project was funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program, which aims to address current and future skills shortages.
The study is available on the Asia Pacific Gateway’s new website www.lmionline.ca/projects/apg/, a central portal for data and studies about B.C.’s current and future labour market. A highlights summary with additional information is also available at www.lmionline.ca/news/.