By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
The Thompson region will add 30,000 jobs in the next 10 years, with the highest demand coming in health care, according to a new labour-market report.
The study, funded by the province and a number of local industries, forecasts growth in health care jobs at 2.6 per cent a year — more than two-and-a-half times the average. Most occupations are expected to grow at a rate of one per cent a year.
“The issue is we have to find a lot of new workers to replace ones that are retiring,” said economist Rob Malatest, who presented results on Friday afternoon to a gathering of community leaders at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Kamloops.
“If you look around the room, one in three of you won’t be here in 10 years,” he said.
About half the demand for new positions will require some post-secondary education, including trades training. Many of the new hires will be low- (27 per cent) and semi-skilled (22 per cent).
Occupations that will see growth include hospitality and tourism, as well as clerical staff.
The report also recommended Thompson Rivers University establish an engineering program in the city to address major capital projects forecast by the province, including pipelines and major mines.
“There’s a need to improve your engineering program,” he said. “They [graduates] will stay here rather than having to attract engineers from other regions.”
The forecast number of jobs will increase if the 31 major projects in an area stretching from McBride in the north to south of the Nicola Valley are a reality.
Colin O’Leary, manager of business attraction, retention and expansion for Venture Kamloops, said the labour-market study is the first of its kind to exclude the neighbouring Okanagan, which in the past, he said, “skewed the data.”
The study found there are already thousands of jobs going unfilled, despite the fact thousands of people are unemployed. It found 8,000 vacancies and 4,000 unemployed in the region it studied.
“We need to match up the 8,000 with the 4,000,” Malatest said.
The study interviewed more than 550 employers. Malatest said the numbers are conservative, noting demand will increase if capital projects come on line.