WESTSHORE CHAMBER COLUMN: Investigating future employment needs

New study to look at West Shore labour market requirements

We know the West Shore is one of the fastest growing, youngest and most dynamic regions in the province. Considering the demographics that have justified the construction of two new high schools on the West Shore, there will soon be a need to get a lot of area youth into the job market.

For West Shore residents and businesses it’s imperative we get answers to some crucial questions surrounding gaps in our current and future labour markets. With a relatively young population and more room to grow, the West Shore is well situated to take advantage of future job market opportunities.

It’s been well reported that there are concerns from industry and businesses throughout the Greater Victoria Region about a substantial shortfall in projected skilled trades and qualified personnel. This shortfall has resulted in delayed expansion plans and has hampered overall economic growth in the region.

This isn’t a problem unique to Greater Victoria. The entire province and much of Western Canada is experiencing a shortage of skilled-trades workers, but there is insufficient knowledge of current job market data for us to fully understand the extent of the problem locally.

Will residents have local job opportunities or the skills to access them?

We are addressing these issues with a Work Force Study to ensure a thriving future for the West Shore and CRD. The West Shore Labour Market Partnership (LMP) is assessing industry trends and current and future work force skills gaps, and creating a framework for action to guide our growth as a community.

The LMP is a collaboration between the WestShore Chamber and the Greater Victoria Development Agency (GVDA). The project is funded by the Employment Program of British Columbia and research is being carried out by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC).

To accomplish this research, the WestShore Chamber and CSPC will require the insight of businesses and organizations from across the entire CRD to build a complete picture that will fill in the gaps in the currently available data. This will help us understand the projected skills demands and potential shortages by sector over a 10-year period, together with an estimated number and percentage of jobs to be created by sector based on planned commercial and industrial growth.

Understanding the gaps in the job market will help the province identify the educational investments that need to be made. The WestShore Chamber and CSPC are currently conducting an extensive employer survey in the weeks to come, so that we can ensure adequate stakeholder knowledge helps us shape our findings.

Focus groups will be held across the region along with stakeholder interviews and a comprehensive survey of businesses. We ask that you take a moment to identify the current needs of your business and think about what will be needed to make your business thrive in the future. Please tell us what your businesses looks like when we reach out to you in the months to come.

The Province of B.C. Labour Market Partnerships program is funding this project and the information will be shared with a variety of community stakeholders. The WestShore Chamber hopes that we can count on the insight from businesses from across the region to help us better understand today’s labour landscape, and to ensure the labour needs of the future economy are met.

For more info on the WestShore LMP visit westshore.bc.ca.