People who live in the Okanagan are a little older than the rest of the country.
According to Census information released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday, Penticton, B.C., is the oldest city with an average age of over 48.9 years old. In Vernon, the average age is around 47.2 years and in Kelowna residents are around 43.3 years old.
“It was quite the surprise to be the eldest demographic in Canada and also the fact that we’ve increased our population by such a huge amount,” said Penticton Chamber of Commerce board member Helena Konanz.
Now the number of people nearing retirement is at an all-time high and one of the leading factors behind B.C.’s labour shortage.
“Here in Penticton, we have that problem also. If you walk down through Main Street through our businesses, you’ll see that everyone is looking for people to work,” said Konanz.
The Southern Interior Construction Association in Kelowna is experiencing exactly that. They are struggling to find tradespeople to fill hundreds of open positions.
“Primarily due to retiring individuals and today it has actually been amplified. There are a lot of jobs out there, the construction industry is very, very busy in B.C.,” said Southern Interior Construction Association chief executive officer Clifford Kshyk.
The association said the construction industry has already experienced a five per cent reduction in labour over the past few years.
“We are anticipating that by the year 2027 that there will be around 27,600 construction job openings to be filled,” said Kshyk.
“And we believe also that around 20 per cent of those job openings, around 5600 will not be filled.”
Kshyk added that the labour shortage is a double-edged sword.
“Retirement is obviously a key factor in this, but the other challenge is getting young people to consider trades as a career option,” said Kshyk.
According to Statistics Canada the working-age population who produce the bulk of goods and services in the Canadian economy has reached a turning point as more than 20 per cent of people who are of working age are between 55 and 64.
“The construction industry in BC is one of the largest employers and if we don’t have people to do the infrastructure, build the roads that have been damaged or new hospitals or schools that are required, yes it is going to be very tough,” said Kshyk.