Krista Mallory, Business Development Officer for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, shares her thoughts on the future of the community's workforce.

What is the current state of the workforce in Kelowna?

According to data available to the COEDC, there were over 2,500 available jobs posted from January-March of 2016. Over 40% of these jobs require some form of university, college or technical post-secondary training. The three highest demands are Health Care & Social Assistance, Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (everything from architects to lawyers to software developers), and Retail Trade.

Historically, the percentage of the Okanagan workforce with a University or Technical education has been lower than the provincial average. Due to the rapid growth of UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College, including the new state of the art Kelowna Trades Complex, we’re starting to see that change.

The total number of fulltime students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan has increased by more than 50% in the last ten years. Our post-secondary institutions are responding to industry demands by creating programs to meet their employment needs. The trick is keeping those talented graduates in the community after they finish their programs. The Okanagan Young Professionals (OYP) Collective works with OC and UBCO to engage graduates and create a vibrant culture and community for young professionals through a variety of volunteer, athletic, arts and cultural activities – including this past weekend’s Sugarplum Ball!

Over the next 25 years, what types of skill sets will the Kelowna labour market require?

I can’t begin to imagine the new skill sets that will be required in 25 years (artificial intelligence technician?), however the Growing in the Okanagan – 2020 Labour Market Outlook indicated that the gap between supply and demand results in the need of 28,000-48,000 new workers across all skill sets between now and 2020. This projection is based on current vacancies, the projected retirement rate, projected turnover rate, employer forecasts and projected growth rate. We know that about 2/3 of those positions will require some form of post-secondary education. Retirement of the current workforce alone will open over 15,000 positions in the next 5 years.

The top five employment gaps forecasted are in Professional, Scientific & Technical Services, Retail Trade, Manufacturing, Finance & Insurance and Accommodation & Food Service.

As the fastest growing technology hub in BC, Kelowna and the Okanagan region can expect to see a rise in demand for skilled tech workers. The top five most in demand occupations in Kelowna’s growing tech sector are Interactive Media Developers, Technical Trade Specialists, Computer Network Technicians, Sales Reps and User Support Techs.

What people and partnerships are needed to set the future up for success?

Kelowna and the Central Okanagan Region is unique in the way that individuals and organizations from across sectors are working together to set the community up for success. The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission’s workforce development programming is engaging with industry to find out what skills are needed now and in the future and communicating that information to partners in the community including Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan. The Commission launched the job matching platform www.okanaganjobmatch.com this year as one tool to bridge the gap between employers and the workforce.

We can benefit from continuing to build on the momentum of groups like the OYP Collective joining forces to create culture for young professionals, projects like the Okanagan Centre for Innovation that are bringing together multiple levels of government and private enterprise to provide space for innovative companies and individuals, and the many grassroots organizations collaborating to build community and attract and retain a talented workforce.

Complete this sentence: “I Imagine Kelowna ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________."

I imagine Kelowna as a diverse and vibrant community where a talented and creative workforce collaborates with innovative entrepreneurs and businesses to cultivate a sustainable regional economy.

Keep the conversation going. Share your thoughts on how people will influence the future of Kelowna by posting on the idea wall.

Originally posted by Imagine Kelowna on Mon, 07/11/2016 - 6:46pm