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Yukon Territories

GVBOT workforce report targets B.C.’s labour market challenges

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade unveils a roadmap to address BC’s soaring skills and labor shortages

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) has released a detailed roadmap to address the escalating workforce shortage plaguing BC’s business community.

Solving BC’s staffing challenges provides a detailed inventory of recommended actions and guidance aimed at closing current and future gaps between available labor and vacancies in BC

That gap totals approximately 150,000 job openings today and promises to widen to over a million in the next 10 years as 700,000 workers are projected to retire.

Metro Vancouver is also burdened with a high cost of living and a limited supply of affordable housing.

It’s no wonder, according to the quarterly Canadian Survey of Business Conditions in Metro Vancouver, that Metro Vancouver businesses continue to struggle recruitment and retaining talent as one of their greatest challenges.

The costs of the labor force gap are not only significant for individual companies. Skills deficits have already cost BC up to $4.7 billion in lost GDP and $616 million in tax revenue, according to a Conference Board of Canada report cited by GVBOT.

The GVBOT report, based on discussions with more than 5,000 members, schools, government and community partner, provides guidance to align education and career paths with the skills that are most in demand.

His recommendations also focus on making BC a global leader in digital skills and ensuring all British Columbia residents have access to employment opportunities.

Bridgitte Anderson, President and CEO of GVBOT, said it is critical for government, schools and businesses to “form a new partnership and pursue innovative approaches to ensure our economy can cope with an aging population while being a global hub for… Technology and innovation with sustainability and resilience at its core.”

With BC’s unemployment rate at 4.2 percent and Canada’s around 5.1 percent, the GVBOT said the provincial government must take immediate action to maximize the province’s labor force participation.

His recommendations on this front include:

•Eliminating registration requirements for out-of-province health workers and working with professional bodies to speed up the recognition of foreign credentials, particularly in high-demand professions like healthcare, where job vacancies rose 91 percent for the first time in 2022 compared to the quarter same quarter 2020;

• Shortening of the employer’s registration process for the “Foreign Temporary Workers” program from eight to a maximum of three days 10 weeks; and

•Increasing investment in experiential learning opportunities.

Nurturing tech talent and aligning BC’s education system with the province’s labor market needs are also priority items on GVBOT’s roadmap to work challenges.

It notes that every job today is, to varying degrees, a technology job. The curricula of VET and education systems therefore need to be redesigned to reflect this fundamental shift in 21st century job potential and career development.

GVBOT’s recommendations to achieve this goal include creating an index that assesses workplace readiness for digital skills across all age groups, and working with post-secondary educational institutions and the private sector to increase the number of microcredit programs , which focus on occupations with the highest vacancies.

The gap between the province’s education system and its labor market also needs to be addressed.

The GVBOT report therefore recommends the establishment of a round table of representatives from industry, government and post-secondary education to focus on the future of the labor market and to align research funding with the needs of companies.

It also wants the province’s public school system and post-secondary institutions to develop stronger ties to and better assess BC’s labor market needs by supporting initiatives such as introducing high school programs in coding, cybersecurity, Care- and bulk wood.

The report added that BC Labor Market Outlook data must be used to design skills and training policies and programs.

Government action is also needed to address other issues negatively affecting the province’s workforce and ability to do business.

For example, BC’s construction industry faces one of the province’s biggest labor shortages.

According to the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), four out of five construction companies in BC say this is the case Not have enough workers; 77 percent say labor shortages will be their company’s biggest challenge in 2023.

ICBA President Chris Gardner said that although construction companies are increasing wages and benefits and incorporating innovative technology into their operations, they are still unable to fill vacancies.

The ICBA’s recently released Annual Wage and Benefits Survey shows that ICBA members expect the median wage for construction jobs – excluding benefits, bonuses and overtime — to increase by six percent this year.

But Gardner said the work is just one of many issues requiring action from the provincial government.

He pointed to bureaucratic bottlenecks in the supply chain inertia and a rapidly growing bureaucratic burden as factors contributing to record levels of the construction industry’s frustration with government.

“Rules, regulations, bureaucracy — and the apparent inability to get projects approved and approved quickly — are impacting affordability and leading to record levels of frustration with government,” Gardner said in a press release accompanying the release of the wages and Accompanied the ICBA’s achievements survey. “The World Bank reports that Canada ranks 64th in the world for how long it takes to approve and approve a construction project – a reality that frustrates the construction industry every day and poses a real threat to investment in BC and represents Canada.”

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