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30,000 vacant jobs expected by 2030
GNWT announces plan to fill projected gap

Meagan Leonard
Northern News Services
Friday, April 22, 2016

Although there will be nearly 30,000 jobs opening up in the territory over the next 15 years - just two per cent will be new positions, according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.

NNSL photo/graphic

Education Minister Alfred Moses announced Wednesday the territory will have nearly 30,000 jobs to fill by 2030 as people retire or leave the territory. - NNSL file photo

The Northwest Territories Labour Market Forecast and Needs Assessment was introduced by Minister Alfred Moses during the NWT Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting held at the Explorer Hotel Wednesday and highlights the anticipated job demand in a variety of sectors.

Of the 28,500 job openings projected, a startling 98 per cent will be the result of current staff retiring or moving out of the territory - fewer than 500 new jobs will be created between now and 2030. The majority will require some form of post-secondary education and fewer than 10 per cent of jobs will be open to those with less than a high school education.

"I think to me, that's what stood out," Moses told Yellowknifer. "All the skills and education that is going to be needed to bridge the demand for jobs and increase our workforce."

Data was broken down into expected requirements at five skill levels: management, university education, college diploma, trades certification and high school or less. Demand for those with a college diploma was found to be highest with 7,249 openings anticipated in administration, social work, early childhood education, accounting and culinary arts. Requirements for university-educated teachers, nurses, psychiatrists, auditors and researchers came next with 6,907 openings. Management positions in retail, construction, finance, government, accommodation and facility operation totalled 5,725. Employment in the trades hovered around 2,000 but is considered the most volatile group as it is dependent on economic conditions. Although projections were completed for three different economic growth scenarios including base, medium and high, ECE officials stated the base case is most likely, given the current climate.

Moses said the department's new Directions for Change education renewal initiative will target K-12 students with the goal of increasing graduation rates. He said the success of that framework and the ability to fill these labour market gaps with Northerners will be intrinsically linked.

"The Directions for Change document is going to be addressing our K-12 system and how we get students on the right pathway to first of all graduating and then moving on to post-secondary education," he said. "They all tie in together."

Implementation of the action plan will target students currently in the school system. Although there are 11,000 presently enrolled, based on 2015 graduation rates, only 7,000 will receive a diploma - and even fewer will continue on in their studies. In 2014, the NWT graduation rate was 65 per cent. It is estimated it needs to rise 15 per cent to meet the national average which was 78 per cent in 2010.

Currently this employment gap is supplemented by migrants from other parts of Canada - about 1,700 annually - and non-resident rotational workers (2,000).

Moses said his department intends to work with Industry, Tourism and Investment on fine-tuning recruitment efforts. He said it is hard to say why previous initiatives have struggled but is optimistic this new market information will prove a draw for the territory.

The research was conducted by the Conference Board of Canada as part of the 10-year Skills 4 Success strategy.

"You can't really understand why people make the decisions they want to," he said. "We can go out and recruit all we want but we also have to have the buy-in and people who are committed to coming to the North or wanting to do the jobs we have to offer."

Department representatives estimate the action plan will be developed over the next four years.

Skills 4 Success targets

  1. Increase skill levels through relevant education and training - skills development and post-secondary education programming geared toward market demand.
  2. Bridge education and employment gaps through targeted supports and incentives.
  3. Enable employers to recruit a capable workforce that expands and maximizes residents' skills, attracts newcomers to fill shortages and retain people to the NWT.
  4. Give residents and potential employers easy access to up-to-date market information to make informed career and business decisions.

Source: Department of Education, Culture and Employment

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