By Jacob Lusted
Local businesses in the South Okanagan have expressed their concerns over recruitment and retention issues for new hires in the region and the two lower levels of government seem to be listening. Penticton is one of several communities encountering shortages of high-skilled workers and growing numbers of overage employment that will impact the economic future of the region.
The provincial government has committed $71,000 to a labour market study being conducted by the City of Penticton who is also contributing to further investigate these issues. Local MLA Dan Ashton made the Pilot Project funding announcement recently at Slim Line Manufacturing in Penticton.
A total of 75,000 new hires are projected in British Columbia by the year 2020, which relates to an 18.5% increase in the next six years. It has been reported that between 38,000 to 50,000 of these jobs will require a post-secondary education. Due to skilled trades shortages, over 18,000 of these jobs will go unfilled; meaning that the province will need to produce more post-secondary graduates to balance the skills and talent deficit.
“Currently the City of Penticton is validating the significant labour issues that stand in the way of our businesses’ success and growth” says Economic Development Officer Colleen Pennington. “Once the issues have been identified, a group of business owners and organizations will put together plans to address and resolve these issues.”
Pennington also acknowledged the importance to develop and nurture more innovation and entrepreneurship, while also noting that “We need to focus on skilled resident recruitment without a doubt.”
Pennington also gave insight on skilled-trade shortages and demand for post-secondary education. She explains that “The skilled labour shortage is a global one. So the issue is really how to ensure a good fit between the skills training available and the job needs of the employers.” Pennington also suggests “We need to ensure we are training for the next generation of skills that our workers will need. “
At the time of writing this was the active link to the survey (should take 12-15 minutes): http://fluidsurveys.com/s/South_Okanagan_Labour_Survey/