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5 Things You Need to Know About BC's Job Market in the Next Decade

By Kristine St-Laurent and Jock Finlayson

Here's what you need to know: 

1.  Jobs: The Breakdown 

Total employment in BC is projected to reach nearly 2.7 million by 2027.  The government anticipates 917,000 job openings over the next decade.  Some 277,000 of these will be “new” positions created by ongoing economic and industrial growth, while the majority—roughly 70% of future vacancies —will arise as current workers transition into retirement.  While some openings will be filled by younger cohorts of workers, they alone will not be enough to fill all of the positions expected to emerge. To meet the “extra” demand, the supply of workers will have to be expanded through a combination of immigration, attracting people from other provinces, and tapping into underutilized labour pools (see Table 1). 

Table 1
Labour Market Outlook Highlights, BC, 2017-2027

    Share of
Total Job Openings
Total Job Openings 917,000 100%
Replacement 640,000 70%
Economic Growth 277,000 30%
Supply Additions 898,000 98%
New Entrants 438,000 48%
Net International in-migration 244,000 27%
Net interprovincial in-migration 80,000 9%
Change in labour force participation 136,000 15%
Reduced Unemployment 19,000 2%

Note:  Values rounded, percentages are shares of the total, job openings are filled through labour supply additions and reduced unemployment.  Supply addition percentages do not sum to 98% due to rounding.

Source:  BC Labour Market Outlook:  2017 Edition.

 

2.  Where Will the Workers Come From? 

On average, 64,000 workers will permanently leave the BC labour force each year over the next decade. About half of the expected job openings will be filled by individuals under age 30 who will be entering the workforce for the first time (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1:  New Entrants Supply and Total Job Openings, BC, 2017-2027

 
Source:  BC Labour Market Outlook, 2017 Edition.                                                                                                                          

Who will be stepping up to staff the other positions? Another 15% will be filled by working-age British Columbians who are not currently in the labour force (see Table 1).  The assumption underlying this projection is that in an environment of strong labour demand and rising wages, more people from historically underrepresented or underemployed groups will be drawn to work—approximately 14,000 more each year.  This includes Indigenous peoples, women, individuals living with disabilities, and both younger and older people who historically may not have had the necessary supports to engage in work. 

Greater labour force participation by British Columbians along with the growing number of people joining the workforce for the first time will still not be enough to meet the anticipated demand for workers over the coming decade. The province will also have to depend on individuals migrating here from other provinces and countries (Table 1). The government’s analysis posits that the remaining one-third of future job openings will be filled through interprovincial migration (approximately 8,000 people a year) and international immigration (about 24,000 a year).  

3.  Job Openings: By Region 

On a regional basis, two-thirds of job openings over the next ten years will be in the Mainland/Southwest region (see Table 2). 

Table 2
Employment and Job Openings by Development Region, BC, 2017-2027

Region Employment Employment Growth
(Avg Annual Growth Rate)
Expansion Replacement Total Job Openings
  2017 2017-2027 2017-2027 2017-2027 2017-2027
Vancouver Island/Coast 371,000 0.8% 30,500 103,300 133,800
Mainland/Southwest 1,549,000 1.3% 209,000 399,500 608,500
Thompson-Okanagan 255,000 1.0% 24,900 71,200 96,100
Kootenay 69,000 0.8% 5,100 19,500 24,600
Cariboo 82,000 0.4% 2,600 23,300 25,900
Northeast 41,000 1.0% 4,400 12,000 16,400
North Coast/Nechako 42,000 0.4% 400 11,300 11,700
British Columbia 2,408,000 1.1% 277,000* 640,000* 917,000 
* sum over regions may not add up to BC total due to rounding

 

4.   Job Openings: By Industry 

Some industries will experience more openings due to economic growth and industrial expansion.  By sector, Health Care will have the greatest numbers of both total openings and net job creation. Nearly 60% of the job openings in Health Care will result from retirements, while the rest will come from growth of the healthcare system to meet the demands of an aging and rising population (see Figure 2). The Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services sector will have the second highest number of new jobs (45,800). 

Figure 2:  Job Openings by Major Industry Group, BC, 2017-2027


Source:  BC Labour Market Outlook, 2017 Edition.                                                                                                                                   

5.   Job Openings: By Educational Attainment 

One trend that’s clear in the updated Outlook is the growing reliance on post-secondary education and qualifications.  More than three-quarters of job openings in BC will require applicants with some form of post-secondary education or training.  The largest share of these (42%) will need a diploma, certificate or apprenticeship, while 36% will demand a bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree (see Figure 3). 

Figure 3:  Job Openings by Education Requirements, BC, 2017-2027

 
Source:  BC Labour Market Outlook, 2017 Edition.                                                                                                                         

The BC Labour Market Outlook suggests that young adults should prepare not for a specific job-for-life, but for a world that rewards transferable skills, technical knowledge, and adaptable competencies.  The list of top skills in demand illustrates employers’ quest for talent that complements increasingly automated processes and adds value where machines can’t do it all: complex problem-solving, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, and leadership ability.  At the same time, there will also be job openings for people with a basic “human touch” and a capacity to communicate, e.g., health care assistants and those who care for seniors. 

Below is a select list of high-demand occupations that require some form of post-secondary education or training coupled with a combination of some the key skills noted above. 

  Table 3:  Select High-Demand Occupations to 2027, BC

Occupation Projected Job Openings
to 2027
Registered nurses 52,540
Nurse aides  32,353
Retail and wholesale trade managers                                        26,200
Administrative officers 19,800 
Financial auditors/accountants 11,500 
Social/community service workers 11,400 
Accounting technicians/bookkeepers  10,100
IT systems analysts/consultants 9,600 
Early childhood educators 9,100 
Computer programmers 8,800 
Insurance/financial managers 7,100 
General practitioners/family physicians 6,758 
College instructors 6,300 
Software engineers/designers 5,000 
Engineers 3,400 
Human Resource professionals 2,400 

 

Read our latest Human Capital Law and Policy for a full analysis of the latest BC Government Labour Market Outlook Report.