A looming skills shortage in the labour force could affect the province’s prosperity and quality of life, according to Kathryn Laurin, president of Camosun College.
In speaking at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce business leader’s luncheon yesterday, Laurin noted the timeliness of the B.C. Labour Market Profile for her address to the business community.
The report, prepared by the Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia, found that a severe skills and talent deficit will hit B.C. by 2016 and continue to grow unless action is taken to improve access to post-secondary education, be it a university, college or trade school.
“Now more than ever, it’s becoming apparent that human capital is the most important resource we have and an economic asset to this province,” Laurin says. “Camosun is going to be a key player in developing that asset.”
Laurin warns the skill shortage is a problem that businesses need to be aware of. Between now and 2020, as baby-boomers pull out of the labour force and new jobs are created due to economic growth, there will be over one million job openings in the province. Within these job openings, over 78 per cent will require some form of post-secondary education, with 43 per cent needing college or trade training.
During the same period of time on Vancouver Island, 152,000 jobs will need to be filled. Laurin pointed to Camosun’s ability to address the possible skill gap locally, as over 87 per cent of Camosun’s graduates stay on Vancouver Island, mostly working in the capital region directly in the fields in which they were trained.
“We need to invest today for what we know will be a challenge tomorrow,” Laurin says. “The trades area has been a somewhat neglected area for many years, as have colleges. Quite frankly it is our time.”
A full summary of the Labour Market profile can be found at www.rubc.ca