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Baldrey: Nursing, education and construction — B.C.'s in-demand jobs by 2033

Health care and education careers will have opportunities abound in the next decade, says Keith Baldrey.
Columnist Keith Baldrey takes a look at B.C.'s Labour Market Outlook report, and it appears some career paths, based on the number of jobs that will be available, may be easy to choose in the years to come.

Did you know that B.C. needs to find almost 25,000 registered nurses over the next 10 years?

Or that the province also needs to hire more than 12,000 elementary teachers over that same time frame? Plus 7,000 secondary teachers, not to mention a whopping 67,000 construction workers.

We even need to find 80 shoemakers and 40 weavers (sadly, from my perspective, is the projection that my profession of journalism will have only 340 job openings over the next decade and just 60 of those will be new openings while the rest will replace retirees).

These statistical projections can be found in the B.C. government's Labour Market Outlook report that was released last week. It is a statistically dense 70-page report that takes a very deep dive into the province's rapidly changing demographics and the economic upheaval that could result from it.

While there is a blizzard of numbers contained in it, the report nevertheless provides a fascinating overview of some of the challenges that will arise over the next 10 years as our workforce undergoes tremendous change.

The report estimates there will be almost one million job openings between now and 2033. About two-thirds of that total is attributable to massive retirements among the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1965) and the rest will be required because of economic growth and population growth.

While the one million figure is not new, the occupation-by-occupation is more detailed than previous reports and leaves an unmistakable impression that it will be a very tall task indeed to fill all these positions.

For example, can we really find 166,000 fully trained health care professionals in just 10 years? The stated need for 67,000 construction workers also seems like a daunting challenge.

And the construction number may actually be low, the report states. That's because the 67,000 figure was arrived at before the government's ambitious housing strategy was in place (it also doesn't account for any more major infrastructure projects coming into play).

One of the biggest takeaways from the report is the stark reminder of the massive dominance of the Boomer generation (which includes me) in all walks of life for all these years. The departure of more than 650,000 of them from the workforce potentially blows a giant hole in the economy.

We are already seeing the beginning of this phenomenon. Many sectors are short of workers and cannot replace them fast enough because about 65,000 people are retiring every year.

The other startling finding is the huge role that immigration is expected to play in filling all these jobs. International immigrants are expected to fill 46 per cent of the job openings, and that works out to about 470,000 workers.

High levels of immigration are required because, as the report notes, there aren't enough younger people to fill all the employment needs.

While members of the Millennial Generation (born between 1981 and 1996) will fill about one-third of the jobs, members of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) won't have much of an impact until the end of the next decade.

One of the main positives of the report is that is a handy guide for young people (and their parents) as they contemplate which career path to follow.

Going into health care or education seems like a no-brainer as job opportunities will abound. But becoming a shoemaker or weaver (or journalist, for that matter) seems to have longer odds for success.

Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.