Demographics – the numbers don’t lie

Back in January I blogged about how Canada’s overall demographic picture was more important in terms of the labour market than current global economic woes.

Recessions come and go every decade or so. These current economic problems will eventually fade but our demographic picture endures. This is an important enough issue to review so keeping that in mind you may want to check out this article that sums up the whole issue.

Engineering and Technology Labour Market Study

This study is examining the current and future employment picture within the engineering and technology sectors of the Canadian economy. Five issues are the focal point of the study:

  • Employer labour requirements
  • The available workforce
  • Attitudes and practices related to certification and licensing
  • The role of diversity groups
  • Globalization

You can check out the affiliated website or an interim report.

Here are some points of interest from the interim report.

  • Individuals who obtained their engineering degrees outside Canada accounted for approximately20% of all employment in engineering occupations
  • In 2006, members of visible minorities accounted for 25.8% of engineering employment and 14.9% of technology employment
  • In BC The engineering age profile is older than average and this adds to supply pressures

Those of you who attended our workshop on “soft-skills” will be aware of the following points:

  • Asked to rank a range of non-technical skills, by far the majority of employers ranked most of these skills between ‘essential’ and ‘very important’.
  •  More than 50% of employers identified serious weakness in the
    non-technical skills of internationally educated professionals as the greatest obstacle to hiring them into engineering jobs


The big picture

As bad as the economic news has been lately it pays to remember that there are other forces at play that will have even a larger impact on the labour market.

Economic fortunes can swing up and down but Canada’s demographic picture is set in stone (more or less). In short order many British Columbians will be in a position of wanting to retire. An article in the Vancouver Sun can provide you with some of the statitical details.

By 2015, 30 per cent of B.C.’s population will be over the age of 55.

Demographics and baby boom retirees guarantee that when the economic clouds eventually clear, we’ll still be facing unprecedented labour shortages that threaten the province’s growth and prosperity.

Even if the current downturn were to bring all new job growth in B.C. to a screeching halt between now and 2015, we would still be critically short of workers.

Also just to provide a little more perspective, Victoria continues to have the lowest unemplomyent rate in the country.

By the numbers

Last week Human Resources and Social Development Minister Monte Solberg gave a speech that touched on demographics issues. It is well documented that as baby-boomers retire there are fewer workers available to take thier place. A paragraph from a Toronto Star article highlights the problem.

Solberg recently told the Empire Club in Toronto that between 1956 and 2006 the country’s labour force increased nearly 200 per cent, but over the next 50 years it is expected to increase by just 11 per cent.