I might have to turn off blog commenting again -but for another reason. Despite the filters, I now seem to get a dozen or so spam comments in the queue that I have to manually delete for every actual comment.
Anyway, I am taking part in the New Brunswick Jobs Summit on Monday and as prep for that I have been crunching numbers again.
The impact of the baby boom is going to hit hard over the next 10-15 years. No one knows how hard because we don’t know if retirement will be pushed out for more than in the past nor do we know if the emerging boomer retirements will open up jobs enticing enough to arrest the out-migration of young people (the annual migration among young people has been negative for about as long as they have kept records on it).
Nor do we know if the province will finally be able to attract and retain a significant share of the national immigration totals.
There is no question we face a complicated labour market situation. We have unemployment rates ranging from less than six percent to nearly 18 percent depending on where you live in the province. We have thousands of people with limited skills and not much formal education in a world where basically literacy is a must for the vast majority of new jobs. We have a major, culturally engrained seasonal workforce that could be as high as 40,000 or more. If full time, full year jobs emerge – particularly in areas where this workforce is not located… I’m not sure of the mobility of this workforce.
Then we have this issue of natural resources and energy infrastructure jobs. From Energy East, to the LNG export terminal, to mines and shale gas – the workforce for these jobs is quite hard to identify. One thing is for sure. It will be hard to match a fish plant worker to a welding job on a pipeline or a new BA in Arts with a job cementing shale gas wells.
There are lots of folks in the system grappling with these issues but because there is uncertainty and an unknown lag in labour market demand, it is very hard to accurately align labour market supply and demand.
A decade ago we were told we were going to need a pile of new nurses (through retirements and increased demand) and teachers (through the impact of retirements) so the education system responded. Now we have too many nurses and way too many teachers in the wings.
But if the system is totally reactive and only responds to active labour market bottlenecks it could end up being late to the game.
I guess it is in many ways a good problem to have but….