Not too many people are interested in pursuing a field if there is very little job growth.
A perfect example of this is printing. With the advent of high end colour photocopying and desktop publishing, the number of people required to run printing presses has declined significantly in the last 15 years.
So it’s important when you are deciding on a career that you look at the actual job growth and potential for full-time employment for at least 10 years. This is the type of information that came out of the British Columbia Jobs and Investment Board interim report.
This report looked at a number of areas. These included forestry, mining, natural gas and liquefied natural gas, agrifoods, tourism, transportation (ports, marines, aerospace), and international education. Each of these was assessed based on the role they currently play in our provincial economy.
Along with this the board made a number of recommendations and some of these are tied to education. For example, since 2012 the mining sector has increased its production value by 20 per cent to $8.6 billion and provides jobs to more than 28,000 people.
One of their biggest challenges is to educate and attract skilled trades and technical workers.
The board recommends that they work with the province’s Resource Training Organization to define and promote workforce development and needs at the same time looking at training plans to help workers transition into the mining industry. Similar strategies are being proposed for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry which is expecting a 50 per cent increase in production by 2020. The province is planning to open B.C.’s first LNG plant in two years.
Closer to home there is growth in the agrifood industry with B.C. now home to 10,000 acres of grapes with more than 200 wineries.
It is expected that this industry, coupled with tourism could provide a large number of jobs both in the Okanagan and outside. Specialized training in this industry is required in both viticulture and hospitality to name a few.
With the controversy over the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline our transportation industry has had a lot of media attention these days.
This industry includes ports, marinas and aerospace. The Port of Metro Vancouver contributes $10.5 billion to Canada’s GDP, and employs over 129,000 people.
Although the aerospace industry is smaller, it is expected to grow significantly in the next five to 10 years.
For the last five years Okanagan College has offered the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) M- License and recently the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Category “S” (Structures) certificate. Both of these program attract a large number of students.
And finally, international education is another contributor to the B.C. economy. International students not only study and live in Canada, but they contribute to the economy through tuition, job creation and other revenues. They are also a great source for dealing with the skilled labour shortage.
All of these areas have the potential of boosting the economy, but they can’t do it with just technology and government support. It is the people of B.C. who need to step up and look at these growth areas for gainful long-term employment and be part of a growing economy—not a retracting one.