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

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 Openings917,000100%
Economic Growth277,00030%
Supply Additions898,00098%
New Entrants438,00048%
Net International in-migration244,00027%
Net interprovincial in-migration80,0009%
Change in labour force participation136,00015%
Reduced Unemployment19,0002%

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

RegionEmploymentEmployment Growth
(Avg Annual Growth Rate)
ExpansionReplacementTotal Job Openings
Vancouver Island/Coast371,0000.8%30,500103,300133,800
North Coast/Nechako42,0000.4%40011,30011,700
British Columbia2,408,0001.1%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

OccupationProjected Job Openings
to 2027
Registered nurses52,540
Nurse aides 32,353
Retail and wholesale trade managers 26,200
Administrative officers19,800
Financial auditors/accountants11,500
Social/community service workers11,400
Accounting technicians/bookkeepers 10,100
IT systems analysts/consultants9,600
Early childhood educators9,100
Computer programmers8,800
Insurance/financial managers7,100
General practitioners/family physicians6,758
College instructors6,300
Software engineers/designers5,000
Human Resource professionals2,400