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Skills Training & Education

Human capital is one of the most comprehensive files on the Council’s agenda. Primary education, industry training, the university system, immigrant integration and other human-capital issues are all crucial to BC’s economic development. As BC’s economy becomes increasingly dominated by skill-demanding industries, governments and businesses have a growing responsibility to help enhance the talents of British Columbians.

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto: Automation and the Future of Jobs

The way we work is changing. Many traditional jobs that developed over the last century are at high risk of being automated within the next 10 to 20 years. Some recent research suggests nearly 42% of the Canadian labour force may be affected in this way by 2035. The same percentage, 42%, also applies to the proportion of “tasks” performed today by paid employees that could be automated using existing technologies.

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Linking the Education System with the Changing Nature of Work

The Canadian education system is struggling to keep up-to-date with a dynamic and unsettled economic landscape and the prospect of disruptive transformations in the job market.

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Three Quick Lessons for Driving Innovation in Canada

Many scholars and business analysts would agree that the U.S. does it right when it comes to supporting technology and innovation. Here are three key lessons from the 2016 Economic Report of the President to help improve Canada’s lacklustre performance on innovation.

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Projections Point to Balanced Labour Market Conditions in BC

The BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training recently released its updated labour market projections.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Workers’ bargaining power to rise as labour shortages proliferate (Business in Vancouver)

The critical role of skills in a modern economy and the fact that many employers continue to report difficulties in finding qualified personnel raise questions about the future supply of workers.  A number of business leaders have voiced alarm about current and/or potential labour shortfalls. Some worry that the overall economy could be de-railed by widespread shortages of workers.

In thinking about this topic, it is useful to begin by considering the larger economic picture and the lessons from past experience.  Concerns about labour shortages are not new, tending to wax and wane with the state of the economy.  Temporary labour supply-demand imbalances in particular occupations, regions, or industries are not uncommon.  But as an empirical matter, serious and persistent shortages of workers have been rare in Canada.  The reason is that the emergence of imbalances in parts of the labour market typically leads to institutional, behavioral and policy responses that, over time, serve to eliminate or mitigate the effects of shortfalls in the supply of workers.

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A Possible Strategy to Improve Post-Secondary Education and Training

The transition from school to work often poses significant challenges both for young people and the employers who hire them. Over time, the economy is generating fewer jobs and career options for young adults who lack any education or credentials beyond a high school diploma. For their part, many university and college graduates are finding the job market tough sledding, and a large proportion of graduates leave school with no clear idea as to what jobs or careers are available. Policy-makers and business leaders are voicing concerns over a perceived labour market mis-match between the supply of and the demand for skills. To the extent that such a mis-match exists and is sizable, it represents a loss of economic opportunity and implies that Canada is failing to fully mobilize its human resource potential.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Post-secondary education still the ticket to better jobs (Troy Media)

It is almost one year since the B.C. government unveiled details of its plan to re-engineer the post-secondary education (PSE) and training system. The Liberal government’s “Skills for Jobs Blueprint” will see additional funding directed to expand capacity to educate/train people in high-demand occupations – and fewer dollars available for programs in other parts of the system. An important factor behind the revamp is a belief among policy-makers that the “supply” of and “demand” for skills are out of alignment in the contemporary labour market.

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Will Future Labour Shortages Imperil the BC Economy?

The critical role of human capital in today’s economy, the fact that many employers continue to report difficulties finding qualified personnel, and demographic forecasts pointing to a steadily aging population and slower labour force growth all raise questions about the future supply of skills.

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The Link Between Post-Secondary Education and Employment Earnings

Does post-secondary education make a difference? It most definitely does.

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Critical Success Factors and Talent Risks for BC

The September issue of this newsletter reviewed the international, labour market and public policy contexts for talent mobility and development and briefly identified key success factors and risks for British Columbia in achieving its workforce development goals. In this month’s issue, we explore each of these areas and offer suggestions for ensuring an adequate labour supply and successful workforce development in BC.

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Math, Science and Reading in British Columbia

What were you doing at 15? Thinking about what career you were going to pursue as an adult? Probably not, and for most kids school is a bit of daily torture. Adults on the other hand are busy and constantly evaluating our children and teenagers on their reading, math and science skills, and often wringing our hands about test scores. For good reason. There is a strong correlation between how well educated we are and how well our economy performs both now and in the future.

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The Changing World of Post-Secondary Education

Outgoing UBC President Stephen Toope was interviewed for a story appearing in the Globe and Mail on June 27. In the interview, Dr. Toope touched on a number of challenges facing Canadian universities, including rising student expectations, governments’ interest in ensuring that post-secondary graduates are “job-ready,” and heightened international competition for top-ranked faculty and graduate students.

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Overqualified Workers and the BC Government’s “Skills for Jobs Blueprint”

Late last month the provincial government provided some details on its planned re-engineering of the public post-secondary education (PSE) and training system, which will see additional funding directed to expand capacity to educate/train young people in high-demand occupations – and, presumably, result in fewer dollars being available to fund programs in other parts of the PSE system. One of the key factors behind the revamp is a belief among policy-makers that the “supply” of and “demand” for skills are out of alignment in the current labour market.

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Women, Work and the Economy

In Canada and British Columbia, males and females are more or less equally represented in the total population (50% to 49%), and the picture is broadly similar in the labour force (52% men and 48% women).  However, females occupy a disproportionate percentage of part-time jobs, at 65%.  At the same time, females now receive 60% of all post-secondary degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded by universities, colleges and technical institutes.  Even so, on average women earn only ~68% of what male workers do, while having a life expectancy of 83 years – four years more than males.  What does this say about the lost opportunity for the Canadian and BC economies? 

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Skill Shortages: Weighing Employers' Views

While academic researchers and policy analysts continue to debate the extent and implications of skill shortages, employers in Canada seem convinced that shortages exist and are an important factor constraining business expansion.

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The Demand for and Supply of Skills

One of the puzzles in the contemporary Canadian labour market is the co-existence of skills shortages in some regions and occupations along with an unemployment rate hovering near 7% as well as mounting evidence of significant “under-employment” among many workers – particularly young adults. This situation suggests there are labour market imbalances, and that they appear to be growing larger over time. Many Business Council members tell us that British Columbia is experiencing mismatches in the demand for and supply of skills.

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Jobs, Income and Post-Secondary Education

By global standards, Canada is a well-educated nation. As of 2011, almost two-thirds of the population aged 25 to 64 had completed some form of post-secondary education (PSE) – 27% had a university degree (bachelor’s to doctorate), while 37% possessed a credential from a college, trades, vocational or other post-secondary education or training program. By this broad measure, Canada’s rate of post-secondary attainment is the highest in the world. This should be good news: a well-established trend across the advanced economies is that higher levels of education are generally linked to improved employment prospects as well as to a greater likelihood of being in the workforce.

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Finlayson: Labour shortages not about a shortage of workers (Troy Media)

An odd feature of today’s economy is the juxtaposition of widespread concerns about talent and labour shortages together with evidence that the incomes of many workers are under downward pressure.   While CEOs, human resource managers, and business gurus proclaim that recruiting, retaining and motivating skilled employees is key to their organizations’ success, a sizable body of economic data presents a somewhat different picture – one of predominantly stagnant real (inflation-adjusted) earnings for a significant fraction of the workforce.

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Finlayson: The Plight of the Overeducated Worker (Troy Media)

Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey points to a softening in the job market.  Across many advanced economies, employment has been slow to recover from the punishing blow delivered by the 2008-09 recession, with young adults in particular shouldering much of the burden.  Canada has done better than most, but even here the youth unemployment rate still hovers near 14%, double the overall rate.  Many young adults are finding the search for gainful employment tough sledding.

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The Plight of the Overeducated Worker

One feature of today’s labour market is the swelling ranks of what appear to be “over-qualified” or “over-educated” employees.

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