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Main Connect News How Post-Secondary Education Can Help BC’s Economic Plan

How Post-Secondary Education Can Help BC’s Economic Plan

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Until recently, finding a decent entry-level position in the trades or in customer service required only a high school education. Yet during the past twenty years things have changed and now most jobs require some form of post-secondary education, whether it be a training certificate or a university degree.


The Province of British Columbia has recently released an economic plan that predicts the ways in which the economy will change between now and 2031.


When it comes to jobs, the consensus is that more than one million roles will need to be filled through the next decade, with the majority of these roles requiring a post-secondary education.


This means that many positions in British Columbia will need to be filled, even though the province has not yet seen a substantial uptick when it comes to post-secondary enrollment. For this reason, a significant aspect of the economic plan is an initiative to encourage job seekers as well as schools to meet rising economic demands in the course of the next decade.


This initiative begins with recognizing which jobs are the most needed. We are already witnessing a shift with many jobs that are being lost due to automation, as well as with many jobs being created in order to maintain these automated and computerized systems. This trend is likely to continue to grow, as unskilled jobs continue to be replaced by jobs requiring a minimum level of training.


As such, the province is looking to ensure that post-secondary institutions are up to the task of meeting these economic and labor demands, as well as to ensure that the culture of British Columbia is conducive towards promoting life-long learning and continuous upskilling in the labour force.


Even though the province’s economic plan won’t be finalized until the Fall, post-secondary institutions are already looking at ways to meet the challenges to come within the next ten years.


Identifying In-Demand Careers


According to Invest Vancouver, digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence will affect the nature of work in Vancouver and throughout the province. These technological implications will have the biggest impact on the portions of the economy that rely on low-wage and service sector positions, as these jobs are phased out in favour of tech-based alternatives.


Meanwhile, technology-based jobs will continue to surge. This is a trend that has already been steadily increasing over the past twenty years throughout Western economies. Currently, tech-oriented industries like software, gaming, and entertainment are witnessing explosive growth, and the usage of technology has been increasing across all industries.


These technological shifts require workers to understand new systems and platforms, while they adjust standard practices and strategies to apply them within their industries. Increasingly, these tools are becoming more specific to their industries, and employees may need specialized training to develop the skills needed to use them effectively.


Jobs in healthcare have long been in demand, but as the population ages, there will be strains within this sector that will require an increase in the number of available positions. Many of these positions will be in areas of support like nurses to healthcare aides, with an increasing focus on elderly and palliative care.


Likewise, jobs within the tech sector are on the rise in British Columbia, with some of the largest employers moving into Vancouver and Victoria to take advantage of post-secondary educational institutions within the region. While many of these jobs will be in software production, there will also be growth on the business side of this industry. These growing opportunities will drive demand for everything from IT support to digital marketing and administration.


The Biggest Challenges


Over the past several years, there has been a noted increase in underskilled workers resorting to taking on precarious jobs in the service sector and the gig economy. Even though these jobs don’t require advanced skills, they are limited in both long-term prospects and financial compensation. The economic plan seeks to tackle this issue by ensuring that people have access to adequate post-secondary programming and reliable life-long skill upgrading.


Newcomers to the workforce in BC need affordable and accessible options for education. Meeting this goal requires institutions to work with stakeholders in government and the private sector to identify which roles and skills will be most in-demand.


While skills upgrading can be achieved through long-term degree offerings or diploma programs, it may be more strategic to develop rapid upskilling courses to get older workers the skills they need in a shorter time. It may also be prudent for government to cut red tape for immigrants with prior training to acquire the necessary national or provincial certifications to continue working in industries they have experience in, particularly in healthcare.


More support will also be needed in targeted training for workers entering into previously unskilled sectors of the workforce which have developed industry-specific tools and software. There will also be a need for every employee to have basic digital literacy, knowledge of cloud-based productivity solutions, and a good understanding of information systems security.


How Career Training Institutions Can Help


Career training institutions can play a vital role in meeting the demands placed on the labour force for the future. Schools like Vancouver Career College have years of experience training individuals for on-the-job skills and providing them with workplace placements so they are prepared to meet the demands of the modern workforce upon graduation.


Vocational colleges like Vancouver Career College are especially well-positioned to not only helping first-time entries into the job market, but also helping those with established careers develop new skills to help them adapt to a changing technological landscape.


Additionally, career training colleges can provide newcomers to Canada a way to bridge the training they already have and gain the certifications they will require to enter the workforce in their new country. This benefits the local market by adding skilled workers to the industry, and diversifying knowledge with international experience in their fields.


The Future


Although BC will not finalize the Economic Plan until the Fall, its goals and targets require everyone involved in the BC labour market to look far enough ahead to find present ways to meet the challenges predicted.


For the Economic Plan to successful, dedicated partnerships between the Province, private sector businesses, and educational institutions are required. All together they will work to ensure the demands of the labour market are met over the next 10 years.


If they are met, the future for BC looks very bright indeed.

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