Forecasts predict there will be more than one million job openings over the next decade in the Canadian province and, with more people leaving the workforce than joining, immigration will be crucial to plugging the gaps.
A new report from the provincial government sets out a plan to address these labour shortages and close the skills gap, including by improving access to post-secondary education for domestic students and supporting newcomers to find jobs that match their training.
With over 150,000 people moving to BC in 2022, the government said that “too many” immigrants struggle to have their training and credentials recognised, meaning they are unable to join the workforce or are locked out of higher-skills jobs.
BC plans to “streamline” the recognition of foreign credentials, a process that currently involves approximately 50 different regulatory authorities.
The government is aiming to bring forward legislation by autumn 2023 that establishes “more unified standards” for foreign credential recognition. It said this will “help facilitate quicker entry of newcomers into their desired fields of work and remove unnecessary barriers, helping employers find internationally trained workers faster”.
The plan also commits to expanding work-integrated learning opportunities at British Columbia’s “smaller” public post-secondary institutions, particularly those outside of the Vancouver region.
“Work is transforming, and we have more job openings than skilled people”
The government will invest more in on-campus housing for students, planning to deliver 4,000 student beds, in addition to the 8,000 already built or under construction since 2017.
“With close to 200,000 international students in BC, getting more of those students’ housing on or near campus will necessarily alleviate some of the housing pressure in the broader community,” said Randall Martin, executive director at British Columbia Council for International Education.
“There is certainly a pronounced need across the province to increase the supply of affordable housing, perhaps nowhere more so than on our urban and rural campuses.”
“Our economy is growing and innovating quickly,” said David Eby, premier of British Columbia. “Work is transforming, and we have more job openings than skilled people. That’s why we are taking action to make sure people are ready to seize new opportunities and build a good life here in BC, and businesses are able [to] find the people who drive our economy forward and deliver the services we all rely on.”