British Columbia is on the cusp of a development boom. From the $8-billion federal contract awarded to Seaspan’s North Vancouver and Victoria shipyards, to the recently approved Kitimat liquefied natural gas export terminal licence, to increased mining development and recent numbers released by the construction industry indicating a prerecession rebound in jobs, there is clear evidence of economic activity across the province. Good news like this deserves celebrating, but it also prompts questions about how B.C. will fill these jobs.
Over the next decade, at least one million jobs are expected to open up in the province, and 75 per cent of them will require some post-secondary education or skills training. This growing demand comes at a time when the province’s existing skilled workforce is shrinking, as more tradespeople transition to retirement. Recent forecasts predict a skilled labour shortage of at least 160,000 by 2015.