IEC-BC argues it is a critical time close the skills and labour gap by thinking differently about attracting and retaining skilled talent from around the world — seeing skilled immigrants as the solution.
As we move further into the second decade of the 21st century, the years ahead promise more than a few surprises on the human capital front due to a perfect storm of factors.
For all countries, including Canada, it’s not a matter of if we address the skills and labour shortages but how urgently we take action. Failing to act will, at best, leave our businesses, industries and communities ill-equipped to remain competitive. At worst, without actual skilled workers, employers may struggle to keep their doors open. What’s driving us to this point?
In short, demographic shifts coupled with a growing skills mismatch mean the global marketplace is headed for a perfect storm — a world where talent shortages and a lack of skilled workers are the norm, as seen already in the BC construction and trucking industries, and in BC’s northwest. There, the region is poised to gain between 6,000 and 13,000 jobs between now and 2020 due to large-scale projects such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), pipeline and marine expansion. The reality is the northwest region’s local labour force will be unable to meet the labour requirements demanded by these projects as we heard at the Northwest Regional Forums on Immigrant Employment we held in August.
At the broader provincial level, with more than one million job openings expected across BC by 2020, and not enough students expected to graduate from K–12 to fill those openings, surviving the skills shortage is about ensuring BC’s industries and businesses have the necessary skilled workers to meet demand.
As countries around the world vie for the brightest and best workers, skilled immigrants are set to become a sought after talent pool in an aggressive global recruiting competition.
Though this coming storm transcends Canada’s boundaries, our governments, industries, businesses, post-secondary institutions and other organizations such as IEC-BC must work together to take bold, decisive steps.
It starts with being far more strategic about closing the skills and labour gap by thinking differently about attracting and retaining skilled talent from around the world — seeing skilled immigrants as the solution.
We’re a country built on immigration, and Canada will always embrace new immigrants thanks to our longstanding policies of openness and welcome. The way ahead is about everyone — business, government and communities — recognizing that attracting skilled immigrants will be one of the keys to our success.
It’s also about turning dialogue into rapid action, so we can get there before others do. Our businesses and industries must be faster and more strategic at closing the gap between
what they have, what they need and the talent that’s out there.
As we navigate the coming competition for talent, it’s a real waste for us not to tap into the expertise of our skilled immigrants in BC. Moreover, from an economic well-being perspective, now more than ever it’s critical that we do — as communities, as a province and as a country.