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British Columbia economy losing billions due to skills shortage

Staff writer |
British Columbia is losing out on as much as $4.7 billion in economic activity and $616 million in provincial tax revenues annually because too few residents have the education and skills needed.

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This is according to a new Conference Board of Canada report, Skills for Success: Developing Skills for a Prosperous B.C. An additional $1.3 billion in economic activity and $169 million in tax revenues are lost annually due to skills mismatches—when some B.C. residents are employed in occupations that do not make full use of their higher education and skills.

Employers who responded to the Conference Board's B.C. Skills Survey expect to have greatest difficulty finding qualified employees for jobs in business, finance, and administration (35 percent); trades, transport, equipment operators, and related occupations (30 percent); and sales and service occupations (23 percent).

Across all occupational categories, B.C. employers are especially motivated to find managers and supervisors due to an emerging "experience gap" as managers and other workers retire over the next five to ten years.

B.C. employers will be looking for post-secondary graduates with university degrees (57 percent); college diplomas (44 percent) and certificates (41 percent); and applied degrees (24 percent).

They are most interested in graduates of business and management programs, computer and information sciences, communications, and engineering and electronics. A third of employers will also be looking for people with trades qualifications and certificates.

Employers are also concerned about deficits in essential skills in the workforce, especially critical thinking and problem-solving (73 percent), oral communication (38 percent), literacy (36 percent), and working with others (33 percent).

Critically, B.C. employers note that they are looking not simply for people to fill specific jobs, but employees with the essential skills, attitudes and behaviours needed to learn and adapt to changing circumstances, innovate and help pursue new opportunities, and address emerging challenges. â– 


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