British Columbia’s economy is at risk of a shortfall in future economic production
due to increasing skills gaps and mismatches. The fact that the province faces this growing
problem is evidence of a historical lack of policy directed toward providing the workforce
with proper skills training. Now is the time for the government, private enterprise and postsecondary
institutions to band together to help solve this encroaching issue. If a concerted
effort does not take place, British Columbia’s economy will be more reliant on the
Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which will diminish opportunities for citizens residing
in this province. Stakeholders must work toward building the economy internally and
providing students with the skills that will help them become economically competitive.
The research presented in this analysis shows that certain sectors in British Columbia
face looming skills shortages that will continue to widen in the future. The provincial
government’s Labour Market Outlook 2012-2022 argues that firms will need to fill up to one
million job openings over the course of this decade. Despite the fact that the province has
one of the highest post-secondary educated workforces in the country, people are finding it
difficult to translate education to employment. The qualitative research methodology that is
utilized for this analysis also explores relevant literature on the steps that other jurisdictions
have taken to deal with similar issues in productivity, and the benefits of experiential
The analysis recommends a set of policy proposals that should be utilized by
stakeholders in the province to help ensure that British Columbians are receiving the training
they need to be globally competitive. This includes reform of the education system, with a
broader focus on properly skilling and placing students with economically competitive jobs.
The project calls for the implementation of an expert working group to better assess labour
market strengths and weaknesses as well as explore policy alternatives, the adoption of the
sponsor-a-school policy to help facilitate more experiential learning opportunities for
students enrolled in post-secondary institutions, and the establishment of a skills coordinator
office that will serve as a quality assurance mechanism. The funding for these policies will
require a redirection in the education and training spending that the province currently
distributes each year. These targets are feasible, but it will take a strong coordinated effort to
dedicate the time and resources that are necessary for success.
The provincial government has already undertaken its effort to market the Jobs
Blueprint, which has been an accepted economic stimulus effort to reform the province’s
education and training structure. The policies set out in this analysis will strengthen the
blueprint and be marketed as support for the future economic prosperity of British Columbia.
Change is necessary; change is essential; and change is what these policies will accomplish.