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All About Employment in Victoria, BC

Victoria’s Sixth Biggest Employer – Health Care

As mentioned in the first part of this series the occupational sector comprised of jobs in health care is the city’s sixth biggest employment category. Approximately 15,600 of the 180,000 Victorians that were employed in 2014 work at jobs that fall within this categorization. But what is the outlook for this sector in terms of present opportunities, wages, future trends and the shape of its workforce?

Today’s Job Prospects in this Sector
An advanced search at WorkBC today says that in the last two weeks (March 18 2015 to April 1 2015) within 10km of Victoria 206 jobs have been posted and of the 124 that specified which industry they were in ten were under the industry listing called ‘Health’ (or ~8.1% of the jobs where an industry is identified or ~4.9% of all jobs posted). As with other categories that I have reviewed earlier the number of job openings shown here may be unrepresentatively low since jobs that fall in this sector may be advertised elsewhere (for example nursing and other healthcare jobs are advertised on Island Health’s site although interestingly physician positions are advertised on WorkBC but not on Island Health) and never make it to the WorkBC listings.

The nine jobs available range from healthcare assistants with a private in-home care company (mainly serving seniors) to physicians. Only a single job shows wages (grrrr!) and it comes in at the middle of the pack on the display (suggesting to me that other jobs pay lower and higher on either side of it) with a stated hourly rate of $16.17.

Pros and Cons of this Sector
There is only a single industry sector that includes health care on the WorkBC site but it also includes occupations that fall under the category of social assistance so it may not be completely accurate in its projections. The pros, cons and future prospects of this sector are taken from a review of this Health Care and Social Assistance sector profile on the WorkBC site.

This sector, which was the province’s second largest employer in 2011, showed a decline of 4.4% (~12,200 jobs) in 2012-2013. This sector is the most overwhelmingly female of all of the sectors profiled on WorkBC’s site (18 in all) with ~82% of workers being female in 2013 versus an average of 48% in all the other sectors. That said women employed in this sector enjoy a higher average wage than women in other sectors. The number of workers under 25 is about half that of the provincial average in other sectors (7% versus 15%) while the number of workers 55 and over is slightly higher than average (22% versus 20%).

As mentioned earlier, wages in this sector are higher than the average for other sectors and although the sector is predominantly female the wages for males are still higher within the sector than those for women (NPR recently aired an interesting piece regarding research that showed within the nursing profession in the United States, which like in Canada is female dominated, male nurses still made significantly higher wages than their female counterparts. Another pro of this sector is that, as the sector overview mentions, the “industry has a low unemployment rate and tends to be immune from economic fluctuations”.

A downside to occupations in the health care sector which might surprise you is that it has “ more worker injuries than any other sector, including forestry, construction, and transportation” (Handle with Care, page 1). The same report as quoted earlier states that on average WorkSafeBC statistics show that about 890 workers per day are absent from work due to injury in the health care sector. This is definitely something to keep in mind if you want a career for the long haul since wear and tear on the body is cumulative. Also most of the jobs in this sector require at least a year or two of post-secondary education with others like nursing and other health care professions (physiotherapist, chiropractor) require at least four years of university. Of course medicine requires an even longer educational commitment. You need to weigh the opportunity cost of pursuing this education against the higher wages that you will make in these professions.

The Future of this Sector
As many of you may be aware there are constant shortages, especially of nurses, in various occupations within the health care sector. The WorkBC site projects 2.1% growth in this sector over the years 2012-2022 (~64,000 jobs over 10 years) and this robust figure probably is reflective of these shortages. The slightly higher than average number of employees in this sector that are 55 and over means that shortages are only likely to increase over time and provide opportunities for young people willing to make the sacrifice of money and time to get the required education to perform jobs in this sector. Lastly the ‘greying’ of British Columbia’s population will also likely increase demand for health care workers.

At some point in the future I’ll examine this sector in more depth and look at Victoria’s biggest health care employer – Island Health (formerly Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA)).


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