Report: Conference Board of Canada’s PSE Skills for a Prosperous British Columbia (2016)

This report by the Conference Board of Canada provides analysis of economic and labour trends for the province’s post-secondary educated (PSE) workers through modeling and interviews with a variety of experts, employers and economic sectors (including technology). It identifies skills and credentials that will be required by BC employers and how the skills gap (companies being unable to find the qualified talent that they require) impacts the overall economy of BC.

It is noted that these skills gaps cost the provincial economy up to $7.9 billion in foregone GDP and over $1.8 billion in lost tax receipts annually. Also, there is a growing reliance on workers with post-secondary educations as 77% of jobs in BC expected to be held by PSE workers in 2025 (compared to 70% today).

The report findings highlight that employers in BC have strong concerns about the future availability of educated workers given an aging population and rising retirement rates. Furthermore, BC’s PSE system will produce 421,000 skilled workers over the next decade but the growing demand for educated workers will result in a shortfall of 514,000 workers. Employers are looking for employees with soft skills, with critical thinking and problem solving identified as the most challenging skills to find.

Lastly, this report outlines a number of actions and recommendations for PSE institutions, employers and governments to address these challenges.

Appendix B highlights the technology sector specifically and provides some findings:

  • BC has lower than OECD and Canadian averages for engineering and science degrees and lower than average rates of granting doctoral degrees.
  • Examples of areas of high demand/interest: engineers, medical technicians and technologists, software development talent, skilled trade workers, electrical/electronic engineering, data analytics skills, industrial engineers.
  • Possible weaknesses: lack of management expertise, insufficient formal business training for entrepreneurs, founders acting as CEOs.
  • #BCTECH strategy and BCIC co-op grants programs identified as initiatives that help; BC government provides funding for increasing outreach and awareness for co-op placements.