The province is facing a looming shortage of skilled workers which could worsen in the coming decade, due to an imbalance between those entering and leaving the profession. Okanagan College president Dr. Neil Fassina shared this information during his annual address to Kelowna’s council, noting that robust economic growth and aging demographics are both contributing factors.
He explains that the provincial system is expected to produce only half as many skilled trades professionals as are needed over the next 10 years, leading colleges around British Columbia, including OC, to work together in order to address the shortfall. Part of the challenge lies in overturning false stereotypes about skilled trades being a dead-end job – when in fact it provides students with pathways into many different careers.
Speaking specifically about OC, Fassina reported that pre-pandemic numbers have dropped but are now seeing gradual recovery. The college currently serves around 17,000 people across its nine campus locations each year; making it one of the largest colleges outside of the Lower Mainland and second only to BCIT when it comes to total sites and students enrolled.
The outlook for jobs appears promising – B.C.’s recently published Labour Market Outlook suggests there will be more than one million openings over the next ten years, including approximately 120,000 throughout Thompson-Okanagan alone – many of which can be filled through courses at Okanagan College itself.