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Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Completes Phase One of Vancouver Island Employment Strategy

March 18, 2009 – Vancouver Island – Faced with the challenge of attracting and keeping the right number of people with the proper skills to fill jobs across Vancouver Island , VIEA selected the consulting firm of Ference Weicker & Company to design and administer a survey based on the companys experience with economic and employment development projects around British Columbia. 

The major survey findings of our preliminary review regarding the projected future balance between supply and demand in the regional workforce include: 
The most significant trend associated with the labour market over the past decade has been the marked decline in the rate of unemployment to a generational low. In the Vancouver Island/Coast Development Region, average annual unemployment peaked declined from 9.7% in 1998 to a low of 4.3% in 2007 before increasing marginally to 4.4% in 2008. 

Between 2001 and 2008, the primary driver of the decline in unemployment was strong job growth which significantly out-paced population growth. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of jobs in the region increased by 28% (from 307,300 in 2001 to 394,200 in 2008) while the working age population (those aged 15 years and over) increased by only 10% (from 572,500 in 2000 to 632,600 in 2008). 

The unemployment rate in the Vancouver Island/Coast Development Region appears to have hit its low for this business cycle at 3.8% in July and August 2008. The unemployment rate increased to 4.1% by September, to 4.5% by December 2008, and to 5.1% by January 2009. 

Even with an economic slowdown, there will continue to be considerable demand for new workers going forward. Attrition rates will be high, in part because of the high median ages of Vancouver Island communities. Based on existing projections, we estimate that employment in the Vancouver Island/Coast Development Region could reach 424,152 by 2015 (this would represent an average annual increase of 1.1% over employment levels experienced in 2008). Over 180,000 new workers would be required between 2006 and 2015 to fill the projected numbers of new jobs (74,152) and vacant positions created by permanent attrition (108,238). 
Overall, the region may need 52 new workers (e.g. youth entering the labour force, people reentering the workforce, and new migrants to the region) for every 100 workers which existed in 2005. 

The current projected increase in population would likely not be sufficient to meet this projected level of demand. The region is entirely dependent upon in-migration for population growth (since the year 2000, natural growth in the Vancouver Island/Coast Development Region has been negative as deaths exceed the number of births). Based on existing population projections and standard labour market participation rates, we estimate that there will be 427,965 participants in the regional labour market in 2015. This exceeds the projected demand for workers by less than 1% (i.e. allowing for an unemployment rate of only 1%). 

Some new workers will be required across all sectors (even declining sectors) because of attrition. Leading sectors in terms of numbers of new workers required include health care and social assistance, retail and wholesale trade, accommodation and food services, construction, educational services, professional, scientific & technical services, and public administration. 

More than 70 percent of expected employment openings in BC are expected to require some post-secondary education. Leading occupational categories include sales and service occupations; business, finance and administration occupations; trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations; management occupations; occupations in social science, education, government service and religion; and health occupations. 

This project is Funded in whole or part through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement.  – See more at: http://www.viea.ca/news–media/blog-news/vancouver-island-economic-alliance-completes-phase-one-of-vancouver-island-employment-strategy#sthash.Wtkbwcwq.dpuf

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