1-M jobs seen to open in British Columbia by 2020

Posted at 04/15/14 11:15 AM

VANCOUVER - One million jobs will open in British Columbia by 2020 once projects lined up by the province's resource industries start.

Shirley Bond, B.C.'s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, said the economic push will come from growth in liquefied natural gas, mining, forestry and other key sectors within the next 10 years.

However, it was not clear how the jobs can be filled so government has decided to invest in skills training through the Canada Job Grant.

"What we've got here is a transformation, agreement on a transformation on how we spend tax dollars in job training to move it, to bend it much more towards employer-led training. This is going to mean more jobs at the end of training and a better bang for the taxpayers buck," said Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney.

But independent contractors are worried that this still won't close the gap, especially with the retirement of baby boomers and the movement of people to other provinces.

"We're gonna be short a couple hundred thousand people. I don't know how many people will come from the other parts of Canada, like Alberta is booming, Saskatchewan is booming, Newfoundland is booming, Ontario looks to be picking up where it's a little, I'm not sure how much we can rely on interprovincial migration. But we're gonna be short 200,000 people at the end of the day if everything comes to pass," said Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Business Association of BC.

The contractors' group claims that even if all the graduating high school students in the next six years will go into the construction industry, it still won't be enough to fill the shortage so the province still needs temporary foreign workers.

Hochstein said recent findings by Statistics Canada indicating that there's no real need for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) did not consider the labor situation in northern BC where there's not enough takers.

He also lashed back at labor groups who accuse TFW of displacing Canadian workers.

"They wanna control who gets in so they want to help their sector but they don't want to help our sector and their goal is to keep the labor supply small. Their job is to drive up the cost of labor, drive up wages and benefits for their members," said Hochstein.

Despite the anticipated job boom, the Immigrant Services Society cautioned against creating false hopes for job seekers.

"There are a lot of job openings but they really look for the right fit so they would be, for example, looking for soft skills, the right qualifications," said Freda Fernandes, manager of Skills Connect Program of the Immigrant Services Society of BC.

Fernandes noted that as Filipinos can easily speak and understand English and are known to be hard workers, this can translate to a more successful job hunt.