Budget ’09

Details of the proposed federal budget  were announced yesterday and all those who seek labour market information should have been paying attention.

You can see all of the details here but I want to focus on a couple of areas that will be of interest if you work in education, construction or transportation.

$1.5 billion dollars worth of new funding was committed to worker training and retraining. A large chunk of this funding will flow indirectly to private and public schools who will be needing to hire new teaching and support staff.

And of course I couldn’t comment on this budget without bringing up the “I word” as the budget proposes $12 billion in new infrastructure spending over two years. I’ve selected a few highlights to list below.

  • $2 billion to repair, retrofit and expand facilities at post-secondary institutions.
  • 4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund that will provide funding to renew infrastructure
  •  $1 billion over five years for the Green Infrastructure Fund to support projects such as sustainable energy.
  • $500 million over two years to build and renew community recreation facilities across Canada.
  • $500 million over the next two years for infrastructure projects in small communities.

Shovel ready projects

shovelWe recently decided that the word “infrastructure” would be our word for 2009. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities reports that should infrastructure spending be a component of next weeks federal budget, cities around the country have projects that are “shovel ready”. This will be of particular interest to our clients who are Civil Engineers or who work in the construction sector.

This table shows that the city of Victoria has a bus-stop improvement program ready to go which is worth over $4 million and could create 49 jobs. The District of Saanich has numerous projects listed.

The word for 2009

I would like to suggest that the word “infrastructure” is one to keep in mind for the new year; particularly if you work in the construction sector. The federal government will use infrastructure spending  as a key component of its economic stimulus package. This article from the Reed Construction Data website reminds us of why this word will be so important.

Governments are going to be pressing ahead with infrastructure projects. To the extent that this is weighted towards civil projects, this will mark a shift away from architectural services and towards engineering expertise. As some consolation for the architectural community, public spending on medical and education facilities may also receive the benefit of increasing government largesse.

Related post: Silver-lining time

Silver lining time

sunraysLet’s look beyond the headlines for a moment. This article from the Wall St. Journal has the gloomy headline of “Canadian Minister Says Outlook Is Getting Worse”. The article outlines some of the challenges the Canadian economy is facing and discussed a proposed stimulus package.

Most media reports indicate that a stimulus package will have some sort of component that includes massive spending on infrastructure projects. This means that billions of dollars will be pumped into the system for roads, bridges, transit, water, energy, port expansion and other projects. Companies and municipalities will need to hire qualified technicians, engineers, labourers, accountants and other workers in order to ensure they can complete these projects.

Bonus idiom: Every cloud has a silver lining

National “crisis”

The Financial Post is reporting that according to a coalition of business groups, unions and colleges the shortage of skilled labour in this country is reaching the point of crisis. The article claims that this skilled worker shortage is preventing many small and medium-sized businesses from expanding.

Some sectors of the economy are particuraly affected by this issue.

• The construction sector, which is in demand to build new infrastructure, or refurbish existing infrastructure, will need approximately 260,000 new workers over the next eight years.

• The mining industry is expected to need 10,000 people per year or 100,000 people over the next 10 years.

• Railways are said to require 11,000 workers in the next four years (33% of its total current workforce) to fill technical positions that will become available.

Continued growth projected for Victoria

The Conference Board of Canada has recently released a report that focuses on economic conditions in this country’s largest cities. Continued activity in the non-residential construction sector will continue to drive economic growth. An article in yesterday’s edition of the Times-Colonist looks at the report and expands on the labour market picture.

Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate will stay low because “we simply don’t have enough people for the jobs available.”

Stepping stones

Many of our clients who have professional designations in engineering, information technology, construction, electronics and other fields will want to take note of a recent article from the Times-Colonist. A common tactic for newcomers to Canada to take is to seek employment in their field at a level with less responsibility. This allows individuals to establish themselves, build their networks, dust off old skills and learn new ones as they improve their English language proficiency (if necessary).

With engineers and other professionals this can often mean working as a Technoligist or Technician which usually avoids the requirement of having to register with a professional association such as APEGBC. This allows immigrants to generate an income while they work towards their goal of having their credentials fully recognized.

The newly-formed Technology Education & Careers Council projects that there will be a 70% shortfall in supervisors, managers and contractors in trades and technologies. The Times-Colonist article claims that many technicians are retiring and that schools have had to cut related programs due to declining enrollment.

These new opportunites will allow many of you to find meaningful, viable employment as you continue to work on your long-term goals.

“Perfect Storm” in the Construction Sector

Those of you who work in the construction industry will want to review this press release which looks at labour market demand for this sector. The Construction Sector Council’s annual forecast of labour market trends predicts that 94,000 new workers will be needed over the next 8 years to keep pace with new projects. Another 162,000 people are required to replace retiring workers.

BC and Alberta are leading the way in terms of projected employment growth in this sector.

Resource: Construction Sector Council

Labour Market News

The Times-Colonist is reporting on a study that shows that the gambling industry in BC creates 16,400 jobs (135,000 across the country).

 The construction sector is still driving job growth in British Columbia. Over 152,000 skilled workers will be retiring from this sector over the next 10 years.

 There are about 650,000 information and communication technology workers in Canada. There is speculation that another 90,000 will be needed over the next 3-5 years.  Some are skeptical of this sector because of the dot com bust of recent memory which has resulted in declining enrolment in computer science engineering and computer engineering programs. While any sector can be subject to employment slumps, one of the enduring trends in the Canadian labour market is that technology is responsible for creating many new opportunities.