The risk of atrophy and the importance of having a little ambition

I love the relatively new tool set up by the New Brunswick provincial government to help young people navigate career choices.  It covers wages, skills required, etc. and has lots of nifty infographics.

The one thing that bugs me is that for a lot of very strategic career choices the outlook is calling for a decline in the number of jobs over the next decade.

We have ONB, TechImpact, NBIF and a host of other groups out there trying to grow the IT industry in this province and the government’s forecast is that there will be 55 less people working as computer programmers in 2028 than there were in 2019.  Yes, you read that right.  257 retirees, a net drop in the total working meaning an estimated 201 jobs to be filled over the next 10 years.

What about cybersecurity?  What about digital health?

When I was in government, just to be sneaky, I asked for a separate run of the data only I injected a little life into the economy at strategic points – and, presto, the labour market roared back to life and a lot of new jobs were created in high value occupations like computer programmer.

This isn’t just an academic exercise.  A lot of folks use these forecasts.  Kids are going in and realizing there will be fewer programmers here in 2028 than back in 2019.  By the way, the forecast nationally calls for a 19% increase in the number of programmers across the country.

If it was me I would fake it.

You heard me.

We are going to need 1000 new programmers between now and 2028.  Why?  Because David Campbell said so, that’s why.

Which do you prefer?

Have a little ambition.

What’s the worse that can happen?

Best case scenario you over-supply the economy with programmers (through PSE, immigration, etc.) and firms expand here to take advantage of all that labour.

Worst case scenario, some young people have to leave because there are too many workers for the available jobs.

Which would you prefer?