Definitions

Learn about technical words we use.
Accreditation Official recognition or approval given to a person or institution that has met certain standards. Examples of accreditation: an official certificate, diploma or degree issued to someone on graduation; recognition granted to a training facility for maintaining an approved set of instructional standards.
Apprenticeship A method for learning a skilled trade through on-the-job training under the supervision of a journey-level tradesperson. Usually includes classroom training as well.
Aptitude Natural ability or capacity for learning.
Attrition Gradual reduction of a workforce as employees retire, resign or otherwise leave their jobs and the positions are not refilled.
Baby boom The significant increase in the number of babies born in Canada following the Second World War, during the period 1947 to 1966.
Baccalaureate

Another term for Bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s degree Undergraduate degree of university education. Typically takes from three to five years to complete. Another term for Baccalaureate.
Balanced demand When the supply of workers matches the demand for workers.
Capital An overall term to describe the machinery, equipment, factories, buildings, tools and other structures or facilities used to produce goods and services.
Career (a) A person’s sequence of occupations, jobs and positions held over time.
(b) A person’s chosen profession or occupation.
Career development The process of developing goals and strategies to pursue a career. A person may base that process on information acquired through research about the career and through a self-assessment of one’s skills, personality, learning style, personal values and interests.
Census A survey of all Canadians conducted every five years by Statistics Canada. The census questions provide information on basic demographic characteristics, such as age, sex, marital and common-law status, household relationships and mother tongue. The most recent Census was completed in 2016.
Certificate A formal document showing that a person has become qualified in a skill or other area of achievement, normally as the result of completing one year of full-time study or the approved equivalent of part-time study
Certification The issuing of a formal document that shows (“certifies”) that the holder has acquired a particular set of skills, knowledge and abilities. Certification is usually received after a person has completed a prescribed combination of education, training and experience in a particular area of study.
Competencies Ability to apply knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform an occupation. Competencies can be obtained through formal or informal education, work experience or other means.
Constant (real) dollar A means of reporting economic data by adjusting dollar values to remove the effects of price changes for a good (e.g., a litre of gasoline) or service (e.g., renewing a driver’s licence) over time.
Contract work Work undertaken by a person through a contract with an employer, full- or part time for a stated period, often on a designated task. A contract worker (or “contractor”) may be self-employed or may work for a company that has a contract with another business. The contractor supplies goods or services at an agreed price. Contract work typically involves working without employment benefits or deductions.
Credential A certificate or letter stating that a person is qualified in a particular skill or knowledge area.
Data A collection of facts, statistics or information, which can be descriptive (qualitative data) or numerical (quantitative data). Data are often gathered and analyzed as a way of understanding and describing why an event has occurred (e.g., a decline in school enrolments) or the characteristics of something (e.g., employment trends in a particular occupation).
Degree A qualification awarded after satisfactory completion of a program of advanced study. Examples of degrees: bachelor of science (B.Sc.); master of social work (MSW).
Demand As used in reference to the labour market, means the number and type of workers that an employer needs to be able to produce a particular quantity and type of good or service.
Demographics Information about human populations based on statistics and usually focused on the number of people and their age, sex, education level, etc.
Development regions Broad areas of the province of British Columbia for which economic and labour-related data are collected, analyzed and monitored. The eight development regions in British Columbia are: Vancouver Island/Coast, Mainland/Southwest, Thompson-Okanagan, Kootenay, Cariboo, North Coast, Nechako and Northeast. (Note: Because the populations of North Coast and Nechako are smaller, data for these regions are combined and reported for “North Coast & Nechako.”) Also known as economic region.
Diploma A qualification awarded after satisfactory completion of a program of study. Typically takes from one to three years to complete.
Distance education A means of teaching courses to students who are unable to or prefer not to attend campus- or school-based study. The Internet and other technology are often used to enable communication and the exchange of materials between instructors and students.
Doctorate The highest level of post-secondary education granted in most countries. Doctor of philosophy (PhD), doctor of medicine (MD) and doctor of law (LLD) are three common types of doctorate. Earning a doctorate usually involves at least two and a half years of supervised research and completion of a dissertation (an advanced thesis).
Duties (of the job position) Tasks or services a person is assigned to do on the job.
Duties (export, import) Taxes imposed on various types of imported or exported goods.
Earnings Income that workers receive in exchange for their labour. Depending on the type of employment, earnings can be in the form of wages, salaries or self-employed earnings.
Economic growth The percentage change in the size of the economy, typically measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), over time (usually from year to year). Economic growth can be the result of increased use of labour and capital or improved productivity. Economic growth may stall in the short or longer term (see Recession).
Economic indicator A statistical measure used to track and help forecast economic and business conditions. Examples of economic indicators: employment growth, unemployment rates, wage growth, Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Economy The system of a country or region, typically involving the production and consumption of goods and services.
Employed Working full time or part time, for an employer or oneself, for a wage, salary or fee.
Employee A person hired by an employer to do work, either full-time or part-time and on either a permanent or temporary basis.
Employer A person or organization that employs one or more individuals to do paid work.
Employment (a) An activity a person does for pay or profit, either full time or part time, for an employer or on a self-employed basis. This activity may also be family unpaid work when that work contributes directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned or operated by a related member of the household.
(b) Broadly used, the number of people working in a particular industry or sector (see Workforce).
Employment outlook An assessment of potential future trends of employment conditions in a particular occupation, industry or region.
Employment turnover See Turnover.
Enrolment The number of people registered in a program or course
Entrepreneur A person who starts, organizes and manages a business.
Essential skills Basic skills that a person needs as the foundation for learning other skills, interacting successfully with co-workers and employers, and adapting to change. Examples of essential skills: verbal communication, listening, reading, writing, problem-solving.
Establishment (business)

A place of business. Some companies might have only one establishment. Others have many establishments across the province and even the country.

Establishment size The number of people who work at a particular establishment. Establishments with fewer than 20 employees are defined by government as small businesses. Establishments with 20–99 employees are mid-size, and establishments with 100 or more employees are large.
Excess demand The situation when the demand for workers is greater than the supply of workers. At such times, it is easier for workers to find jobs.
Excess supply The situation when the supply of workers is greater than the demand for workers. At such times, it is easier for employers to find workers.
Exchange rate The price of Canada’s currency relative to the currencies of other countries such as the United States.
Experience

The knowledge and skills a person acquires over time by performing a set of activities.

Exports Goods and services sold to buyers outside the country. Canada’s exports are affected by changes in the global and national economy, such as interest rates and the value of the Canadian dollar.
Forecast A prediction of what is expected to occur in the future. A forecast is mainly built upon past and present data with certain assumptions on future conditions based on experts’ experience and knowledge. See Projection.
Full-time employee A person whose job involves at least 30 hours of work a week.
Globalization An increasing integration and interdependence of people, businesses and governments around the world.
Goods sector The sector of the economy made up of industries that harvest, extract, process, or transform raw materials into physical products.
Graduate A person who has completed a qualification such as a degree or diploma.
Gross domestic product (GDP) A measure of the value of all goods and services produced within the economy. It is the standard measure of the size and performance of the economy, and is usually expressed in billions of dollars. (Note: The term “value added” is sometimes used interchangeably with GDP. See Value-added.)
Immigration The movement of people into a country from other countries with the intention of becoming permanent residents in the new country.
Imports Goods and services brought into a country from other countries.
Imputed rental income An estimate of how much rent a homeowner would have to pay for the house, condominium or other dwelling he or she lives in. It is a measure included in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Indices Measures showing how the value of things—such as prices, wages, incomes and employment—changes over time. They are expressed as a percentage relative to the base period, which is assigned the value 100. Example of indices: the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average index.
Industry A group of establishments that produces a common set of goods or services. For example, the retail trade industry includes all the establishments that buy goods and resell them to the public.
Inputs Goods and services (labour, capital and materials) used in the production process. Example: the inputs in millworking include:
  • labour
  • capital (such as the millworking factory, a table saw or a power sander)
  • raw materials (wood)
  • materials produced by other companies (such as nails and glue)
  • fuel and energy (electricity, oil or gas)
  • purchased services (such as transportation from the factory to the building supply store or the services of the company’s accountant)
Interest rates The rate of interest charged on mortgages and loans, or paid on savings.
Investment An amount of money paid into something, such as a business start-up or a factory expansion, with the aim of making a profit.
Job A paid position requiring the person in it to have specific knowledge, skills, experience or training. The required tasks of the job may be carried out at a work site, in a company or home office, or other place (such as a mode of transportation: transport truck, train, plane, taxi, etc.)
Journey-level An experience level that applies to completion of an apprenticeship program or experience as a fully-qualified worker in a trade.
Labour The work effort of any type of worker, from farm labourer and tradesperson to doctor and office worker.
Labour force The population 15 years of age and older across Canada that is employed or unemployed, but actively looking for work. Also referred to as “workforce.” See Workforce.
Labour Force Survey (LFS) A monthly survey conducted by Statistics Canada across the 10 provinces. About 56,000 households are surveyed to determine whether people 15 years of age or older are working, not working, actively looking for work, or no longer actively looking for work (meaning not in the labour force).
Labour income The wages a worker earns, as well as the benefits paid by the employer. Labour income accounts for about two-thirds of the total value added in the economy, making it the biggest component of Gross domestic product (GDP).
Labour market Where buyers of labour (employers) and sellers of labour (employees) meet to satisfy job requirements within the Canadian economy or marketplace.
Labour mobility The ability a worker has to move among employers, among occupations (usually having the same or similar skill requirements), or among geographical areas.
Market An area, location or environment developed to facilitate the exchange of goods and services among buyers and sellers. Buyers and sellers typically deal in currency (money).
Market intelligence Information gathered by individuals or organizations that have extensive knowledge of employment trends for a specific labour market, industry or occupation.
Master’s degree Graduate degree of university education. Typically takes at least one year to complete after the completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Migrants People who move from one place to another within a specified geographic area, such as within a province or country, or to a different country, often to find work or for other economic reasons.
National Occupational Classification (NOC) A system of classifying and coding all occupations in Canada. The NOC is the basis for the organization of occupations in WorkBC.
New job seekers New workers who are added to the labour market in a region during a certain period. Examples of new job seekers: people who leave the school system and enter the labour market for the first time; migrant workers who move into the region; others looking for work as a result of layoffs elsewhere, cyclical changes in the economy, seasonal changes in labour demand or similar reasons.
Occupation A grouping of jobs or types of work that have similar skills and responsibilities. Types of jobs are classified based on the amount of skill or training needed to do them, as well as on the specific characteristics of the job. Examples of occupations: health-care worker, school teacher, electrician, lawyer.
On-the-job training Acquiring knowledge and skills while working, by performing tasks under the supervision of a person who has already acquired the knowledge or skill.
Outsourcing Hiring someone from outside an organization to perform a task for an agreed fee over a set period.
Part-time employee A person whose job involves less than 30 hours a week.
Population All the people living in a particular country, region, place or area.
Postgraduate (a) An advanced level of education beyond completion of a bachelor’s degree, such as a master’s or doctorate degree.
(b) A person studying at the postgraduate level.
Post-secondary education Further education undertaken after completion of high school.
Post-secondary institution Institution of higher education beyond the high school level, offering degree and certificate programs of study from one to five years in length, as well as postgraduate studies.
Prerequisites The previous education, training, experience, individual abilities, skills or qualifications that a person requires if he or she wants to undertake a particular program of study.
Primary industries Industries that involve the harvesting or extraction of natural resources. Examples of primary industries: fishing, logging, mining, oil and gas extraction, and agriculture.
Private sector The part of the economy that is not under direct government control. In general, private-sector businesses are funded by commercial profit, not by government funding.
Productivity A measure of the overall efficiency of the economy. Productivity can be improved through advances made in technology or through the more efficient use of labour or capital inputs.

Labour productivity
The relationship between the amount of goods and services produced and the labour used.

Production process

The steps involved in creating an industry’s final product. For example, in millworking, to make doors, the production process would include:
  • sawing boards into pieces of wood that have the right dimensions
  • gluing, nailing or screwing the pieces of wood together into a door
  • sanding and painting or varnishing the door
  • shipping it to a building supply firm where it is sold to a customer
Profession An occupation that requires specialized skills and advanced training.
Professional association An organization that represents members of a professional occupation and that may set educational and training standards and a professional designation.
Projection An anticipation of what would likely occur based on past trends modified to account for possible future changes. A projection should be viewed as one scenario that incorporates certain conditions that may not be the most likely to occur. See Forecast.
Public sector The part of the economy that involves central government. The public sector includes all the people and organizations (e.g., ministries, Crown corporations, health authorities, public schools and universities) that provide public goods and services, from highways and water and sewage facilities to health care and education.
Recession A decline in economic growth for at least six consecutive months. A recession is shorter than a depression.
Recruitment The task in a business or industry of posting job vacancies, collecting and screening applications, and arranging interviews. Often includes identifying target groups, such as post-secondary graduates and underrepresented populations (e.g., women), to which the business or industry can market its employment opportunities.
Red Seal The nationally registered trademark symbol of the Interprovincial Standards Program, used to signify interprovincial qualification of tradespersons at the journey level. The symbol is affixed to provincial and territorial Certificates of Apprenticeship and Qualification earned by apprentices and tradespersons who have met the national standard in a Red Seal trade. With the Red Seal qualification, the holder may work anywhere in Canada without having to write further examinations.
Regions, development See Development regions.
Registration The requirement of a person to be officially approved by and listed with an overseeing organization before being able to work in a particular profession or trade. For example, teachers, plumbers and many medical professionals must be registered before they can legally work. In some professions and trades, registration must be renewed every year.
Resource-based industries Industries that involve the harvesting, extraction and processing of natural resources. Resource-based industries include all of the primary, and some of the secondary, manufacturing industries.
Resources Materials, people, equipment and machinery needed to produce goods and services.
Retirement Permanently leaving a job or career at, or near, the usual age for doing so (e.g., 65) or by choice.
Revenue Income, particularly for a company.
Salary A fixed regular payment for work made once or twice a month by an employer to an employee. See Wages.
Seasonal employment The hiring of workers to meet labour demands during a particular season or time of year. For example, retailers are often busiest at Christmas, landscaping companies and nurseries are usually busiest in the spring and summer months, and farmers must harvest their crops in the summer and autumn months. See, also, Temporary workers.
Secondary education High school or school attended after elementary school, generally following grade 7, 8 or 9 (depending on the province or territory).
Secondary industries Industries that typically support primary industries. Examples of secondary industries: manufacturing (both resource and non-resource-based); construction; utilities that distribute electricity, oil and gas, or water.
Sector A grouping of industries that produces related goods or services. For example, the logging industry produces logs, which are sawed into lumber by the wood industry or chipped and turned into pulp or paper by the paper industry. Because these three industries are related, they are typically grouped into what is called the forest sector.
Self-employment Working for oneself rather than being employed by a company or other organization. Many self-employed people work on their own or with unpaid help from family members. Others have paid employees. Examples of self-employed people: those who run corner stores or other small businesses, farmers, accountants, housekeepers, gardeners, dentists.
Service sector The sector of the economy made up of industries that provide services rather than goods ranging from transportation, communication, real estate and financial services to retailing, hairstyling, education, health care and public administration.
Skill The ability to do something (often an activity involving physical or mental dexterity) consistently well, as a result of both practise and natural aptitude. Skills can be developed and improved. They are gained through education, work and life experience.
Skill shortage A lack of appropriately skilled people available when an employer needs them. Skill shortages may result when:
  • employers cannot fill vacancies because there are not enough job seekers with the required skills
  • employers can find people who have some, but not all, of the skills required (a situation referred to as a “skills gap”)
Succession planning The process of identifying potential candidates to succeed current employees when the latter leave an organization (usually through retirement). Usually applies to key positions only. The planning process often includes “grooming” the identified candidates well in advance by providing them with, or helping them get, the skills and experience they will need to take over the vacated positions.
Supply (of labour) The number of individuals offering their services to employers, including new entrants to the labour market as well as those with or without a job.
Technology Machinery, equipment and processes developed using scientific knowledge and information.
Temporary workers Workers who are hired to meet a temporary need for additional staff and are then laid off after the goods production or demand for services is completed. Examples of temporary workers: additional staff hired by a retailer for the pre-Christmas rush; farm workers hired to help with seasonal harvesting. See also Seasonal employment.
Total job openings The estimated number of job openings expected over a period of time as a result of (a) expansion demand (new job openings resulting from economic and industry growth) and (b) replacement demand (job openings that need to be filled generally because of retirements and deaths).
Trade (or vocational) education Higher level of education that may or may not require the student to have completed high school, and that may involve on-the-job training as part of the course requirements.
Training Acquiring knowledge or skills by performing tasks under the direct supervision of a person who has already acquired the knowledge or skill. Training can occur on the job or in an educational program.
Trend The ongoing change in a set of observations taken over time.
Tuition Fee charged to a student for instruction at a school or university.
Turnover The number of workers who leave and join the workforce, an industry or a company over a specified period (such as a year). Turnover is usually expressed as a rate.
Undergraduate (a) University-level qualifications such as bachelor’s degrees, first professional degrees, and undergraduate diplomas and certificates.
(b) A person studying at the undergraduate level.
Unemployment The situation in which a person not currently employed is looking for, and is available for, work.
Unemployment rate The proportion of the labour force that is unemployed and looking for work (expressed as a percentage; e.g., 5 per cent). This rate (sometimes referred to as the “jobless rate”) does not include discouraged workers who are no longer actively seeking work or students who do not currently wish to work.
Union coverage A measure of the extent to which workers in an industry are covered by the terms of the collective agreement negotiated between their labour union and employer. This is different from union membership: some workers who have not joined the union may still be covered by the agreement.
Value added The value added to raw products by further processing or manufacturing. Examples of value added: turning raw logs into lumber; turning lumber into doors or pre-fabricated buildings. See Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Wages Fixed, regular payment for work, paid on an hourly, daily or weekly basis by an employer to an employee. See Salary.
Wage rates The different amounts paid—whether annual salaries or hourly wages—to employees, depending on their occupation (also referred to as “pay scales”). Wage rates vary based on a range of factors (see Salary), such as general working conditions, the risk associated with doing a job, the training required, the responsibility involved, the hours of work, the type of equipment used on the job, and collective agreements in place between employers and unions.
Workforce The population 15 years of age and older across Canada who are employed or are unemployed but actively looking for work. Also referred to as “labour force.” See Labour  force.
Working-aged population The population between the ages of 15 and 64.
Work–life balance A state in which a person achieves a balance in terms of time, energy and personal satisfaction between paid work and other important areas of life, such as family and recreation.