By Takeshi Iso

Kelowna is not only known as a small rural city that specializes in fruit production, ranching, and forestry but also known as a retirement location, and more importantly, as Canada’s Silicon Vineyard (Aguiar, Tomic, & Trumper, 2005).

Despite Kelowna’s attractive factors, the city is facing a significantly low unemployment rate, “4.3%” as of July 2019 (MacNaull, 2019). Out of the “133,800” people who live in Kelowna, “105,300” people are employed, which illustrates that Kelowna is facing a shortage of labour (Statistic Canada, 2020). According to experts, when the unemployment rate drops below 5%, people who seek jobs will be able to find positions right away (MacNaull, 2019). In Kelowna’s developed technological sector, many companies are seeking skilled workers, which also contributes to the issue of labour shortage.  Pierre Cleroux, BDC’s chief economist, illustrates this situation as an “opportunity for appropriately skilled job seekers over the next decade” (Gerding, 2018). Cleroux states the two main solutions: “further technology investment to off-set labor shortfalls,” and “hiring more immigrant workers” (Gerding, 2018).

KF Aerospace, “Kelowna’s largest private-sector employer, with 800 workers maintaining and retrofitting aircraft at its hangars at Kelowna International Airport for airline, military and government clients”, is applying the solution to overcome the situation (MacNaull, 2019). For KF Aerospace, it is difficult to find qualified aircraft structural technicians; therefore, “KF routinely hires the entire graduating class of structural technicians from Okanagan College, and hires qualified workers from other companies and immigrants too.” (MacNaull, 2019). Another solution that FK Aerospace can apply is to invest in technological resources to off-set the labor shortage.

When it comes to labour shortage, immigrants form a significant part of the solution. Stephanie Slaman, a business development officer with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, said that “the natural labour force is shrinking, and we’re relying on immigration and employers being competitive to attract and retain workers to keep the economy going” (MacNaull, 2019).

In addition, British Columbia has Provincial Nominee Programs, and Immigration Canada has Temporary Foreign Worker Programs to bring in skilled immigrants as well as specific agriculture arm to fill the positions that domestic cannot fill (MacNaull, 2019).

Ultimately, having an unemployment rate under 5% is an opportunity for all the people who are seeking to get a job. Acknowledging Kelowna’s future economic growth, people should take this city into consideration when looking for job opportunities.