Engineering school recommended in local market study

Study predicts more than 6,000 vacant jobs requiring a university degree in the Kamloops area

R.A. Malatest President Rob Malatest and Venture Kamloops’ Colin O’leary. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

R.A. Malatest President Rob Malatest and Venture Kamloops’ Colin O’leary. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

The Venture Kamloops 2015 labour market study, which presented its findings on Oct. 30, has projected both encouraging employment prospects and areas in need of improvement for both TRU and Kamloops. The study provided a 10-year projection that used data specific to Kamloops and surrounding rural communities to predict future employment trends in the region.

Many of the study’s findings are directly related to TRU. The study predicts that by 2025, there will be 6,110 vacant jobs requiring a university degree in the Kamloops area and an additional 1,344 requiring trades training. According to the study, these trends toward vacant positions are the result of an aging workforce, the region’s issues with retaining skilled workers. The Kamloops area is predicted to add more than 30,000 jobs by 2025.

The study’s findings specifically noted that the Kamloops area lacked an engineering post-secondary program. The study says that an engineering school in the region would “help serve as a sustained source of trained engineers entering the regional workforce.”

According to the study, TRU’s capacity as an open or online learning institution, as well as its mobile training programs, are consistent with employer demands: 53.7 per cent of employers in the area said that online courses would greatly benefit their employees, and an additional 46.9 per cent said the same about “mobile education.” TRU uses mobile training trailers to bring trades courses to rural communities.

Venture Kamloops commissioned R.A. Malatest, a Victoria-based market research firm, to conduct the study. Along with data from BC Stats and other existing sources, Malatest surveyed Kamloops-area employers.

“We had to go out and get data that is not available elsewhere. For example, there is no data on vacancies [in Kamloops],” said company president Rob Malatest.

A total of 565 employers responded to the survey, which contained questions about projected business growth, employee retention, satisfaction with job training opportunities in the area and other topics. Malatest estimates that 15 per cent of operating businesses in the area answered the survey. Businesses were asked if they expected to expand their workforce in the near future; more than half expected to grow. The survey area encompassed all of Kamloops but also Barriere, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House and other rural communities in the area.

Although the Kamloops job market could be radically changed by major proposed projects such as the Ajax mine or the Trans Mountain pipeline, the study did not account for them. “This forecast does not include the impact of major capital projects…for the purpose of our forecast we took a very conservative approach,” Malatest said.

The study cost over $200,000 and was paid for with a $117,000 grant from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation along with contributions from other partners, which included BCLC, KGHM Ajax, Domtar and TRU.
The study was well-received by local politicians who attended the presentation, including Terry Lake, B.C. Health Minister and MLA for the Kamloops–North Thompson electoral district.

“This study that Venture Kamloops commissioned will set the path for us going forward…we’re going to need a lot of new people in healthcare going forward, and TRU can help with that,” Lake said.

“We need to know not only where we’ve been, but where we’re headed…we need to have reports like this to know what we’re looking for, what our youth are looking for and what our employers need,” said Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar.