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Tech, health care to lead job growth as B.C. forecasts 1M openings by 2031

Tech, health care to lead job growth as B.C. forecasts 1M openings by 2031

Technology Sector Life Sciences/Bio Tech Technology Services Employment Study/Report

Newcomers expected to fill one-third of job openings, according to outlook.

Author: Tyler Orton

The health-care and tech sectors are set to drive one million job openings in the province over the next decade, according to new forecasting from the B.C. government.

The latest B.C. Labour Market Outlook, released Monday, projects there will be 142,900 job openings in health care and 140,700 job openings in technology from 2021-31.

Those sectors combine for 28 per cent of the new jobs expected to be created in the coming decade.

But of the 1,004,000 job openings, 635,000 will be replacement positions as more British Columbians retire while the remaining 369,000 new openings are by way of expansion.

Overall, the government estimates employment will reach three million by 2031, up from the current 2.6 million.

But the government acknowledged it is facing a potential labour shortage of 83,000 positions over the next 10 years.

“We do know that there is a gap in the skilled workforce and future workforce,” Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training, said during a media briefing.

She said the province is looking into strategies for bringing some back into the workforce, such as providing more childcare services and reaching out to those who may have retired early in the pandemic.

But Kang acknowledged the pandemic has resulted in an “exasperated gap in the need for health-care workers.”

The minister said the government is embarking on a fast-track initiative to fill some of these positions quickly and is delivering targeted funding to public and private post-secondary institutions.

The labour market outlook itself posited the idea that some of the job shortages could be filled by automation. The report estimated 175,000 job openings have a “high chance” of being automated to “help reduce the impact of the labour shortage.”

More than 75 per cent of the one million jobs coming down the pike will require some form of post-secondary education.

“That tells us a lot where our economy is going,” B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon said.

“When I talk to business owners and leaders across the economy, I hear the same message over and over again: a skill gap is looming.”

Meanwhile, the latest outlook now projects 143,000 more job openings over the 2021-31 period compared with the outlook for the 2019-29 period.

That sizeable increase is primarily due to the bounce-back from COVID-19, according to the outlook, as well as the federal government embarking on a campaign to bring in 1.2 million immigrants over three years in a bid to stimulate the economy.

Ottawa is so far is hitting its targets, having taken in 401,000 newcomers in 2021, the first year of the campaign.

The outlook forecasts new immigrants filling 34 per cent of new job openings in the coming decade.

After health care and tech, the next most openings will be coming from retail (103,700 jobs), followed by construction (75,900 jobs) and accommodation/food services (65,000 jobs).

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