A Framework for Action: Addressing Skills Shortages in British Columbia

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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 learning. 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.
Lindstrom, Thor. (2015). A Framework for Action: Addressing Skills Shortages in British Columbia ( Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.