The current shortage of skilled tradespeople in Western Canada is so dire that the B.C. Construction Association is returning to Ireland this month to hire 600 people, said the group’s vice-president.
In fact, even if one-in-five students graduating from high school in B.C. during the next three years were to pursue a trade, there still wouldn’t be enough workers to fill shortages in the province’s construction industry, said Abigail Fulton.
Not everybody agrees with the recruitment drive, especially the province’s labour leaders who argue employers can find skilled, unionized Canadian workers to fill immediate, vacant positions.
Yet, a consensus is developing that there will be a shortage of skilled workers in the coming decade, as proponents of the liquefied natural-gas industry, hydro-electric projects and oil and gas pipelines push their proposals forward.
“There’s lots of evidence to suggest we’re not doing enough to train construction workers in skilled trades in British Columbia, and if even half these projects come through we’re going to have a crisis unless we start now to deal with the problem,” said Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labour.
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