The Top Challenge for BC Business? Attracting and Retaining Skilled Labour CPABC Business Outlook Survey reveals housing prices and cost of living are the primary reasons why BC businesses can’t attract and retain employees Economic outlook – in BC, in Canada, and globally Survey respondents were optimistic about BC’s economy in 2015 (as they were in 2014), with 42% rating it as “good” or “excellent.” Interestingly, respondents residing in the Mainland/ Southwest (56%) and Vancouver Island (54%) Development Regions were more likely to have negative feelings about the BC economy than members living in more rural regions of the province (47%). Only one-fifth of respondents described Canada’s economy as “good,” and one-third said they believe BC’s economy will grow faster than the Canadian average over the next two years. Still, the percentages of those expecting improvement for BC and Canada over the next two years are close, at 25% and 24%, respectively. The two-year forecast for international markets was mixed—43% of respondents said they expect the US economy to improve, 41% expect the Asian economy to improve, and 25% expect the European economy to improve. C-suite members were more likely to hold positive views about the BC (51%) and US (59%) economies, and to expect improvement, at 29% and 54%, respectively. Challenges to business success As was the case in 2014, the ability to attract and retain high-calibre employees and/or skilled labour was ranked as the number one challenge to business success in BC, with nearly 73% of 2015 respondents identifying it as an issue. Ranked next in terms of importance were the ability to raise capital (62%), consumer confidence levels (also 62%), and government red tape (61%). Among those who saw recruitment and retention as BC’s biggest challenge to business success, the high cost of living in BC, low wages, and high housing costs were cited as the top contributing factors. Not surprisingly, respondents living in the Mainland/Southwest Development Region were more likely to cite the cost of living and the cost of housing as the primary challenges to businesses when it comes to retaining skilled labour. Consistent with past years’ results, respondents identified housing prices (78%), commodity prices (74%), the value of the Canadian versus US dollar (72%), and the Canadian economic climate (69%) as the 28 CPABC in Focus • Nov/Dec 2015 Olivier Le Moal/iStock/Thinkstock E ach year, CPABC conducts the Business Outlook Survey to measure members’ perceptions of the current and future economic climates in BC, in Canada, and globally. The survey also asks members to share their thoughts on the challenges for business success and the performance of government in supporting BC businesses. Responses are analyzed by region, and a year-to-year comparison is made. Newly added to the process this year was the analysis of results from members in executive management roles (the “C-suite”). A summary of the 2015 survey results follows.