Condominium construction in Greater Victoria, one of the urban areas where builders are looking for more carpenters, concrete finishers and other skilled trades. (Black Press files)

Skilled worker shortage hangs over B.C. industrial growth

Construction, forest industry struggle to hold workforce

The B.C. government’s agenda for 2019 touts its strategies for generating more construction, sawmill and natural gas industry jobs, but employers are wondering where the skilled workers are going to come from.

After this week’s throne speech to start the legislature session, Premier John Horgan acknowledged that a skills shortage is the most common issue he hears about in meetings with employers. The speech repeats the NDP government’s commitment to more skills training, the details of which will be seen in Finance Minister Carole James’ next budget on Feb. 19.

“Talking to employers, I hear over and over again, the biggest challenge they have is recruiting and retaining skilled workers, or recruiting and retaining any workers that they can provide training for,” Horgan said.

Housing and other construction have been booming in urban B.C., and more growth is expected this year, according to the Independent Contractors and Business Association’s 2019 wage and benefits survey, released Wednesday in Vancouver.

RELATED: Union construction doesn’t raise costs, B.C. Building Trades says

RELATED: Horgan vows to keep more logs in B.C. for sawmills

ICBA president Chris Gardner says more than half of companies surveyed expect to grow by 24 per cent on average this year. But in skilled trades such as carpenters, sheet metal workers, sprinkler fitters and concrete finishers, nearly 80 per cent of companies say they can’t hire enough people.

“Skills shortages have eased a little, particularly in the North, but with nearly 60 per cent of companies saying they are turning down work, the pressure remains acute,” Gardner said.

The survey included 1,000 companies in November 2018. It finds that wage growth is accelerating, with four per cent annual increases expected to reach 5.3 per cent in 2020, and average wages above $30 an hour.

The ICBA is taking court action against the NDP government’s new “community benefits agreement” for public construction, which restricts highway and bridge work to 19 selected trade unions, mostly headquartered in the U.S. Gardner said 85 per cent of companies in B.C. are shut out of taxpayer-funded work.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kicking Horse Update, Tuesday, January 28

Kicking Horse reports 1 cm of snow in the last 24 hours,… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update Tuesday, January 28

DriveBC reports slippery conditions on Highway 1 between Glacier National Park West… Continue reading

Columbia Basin Trust shuffles board, new leaders at the table

The Trust is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors

BREAKING: Golden Rockets part ways with head coach

It’s not clear why Jeremy Blumes was let go from the team

VIDEO: As 106 reported dead from the coronavirus outbreak, countries look to evacuate citizens

Canada is warning its residents to not go to Hubei province at all

Taxi association asks B.C. Supreme Court to stop Uber, Lyft from operating

Petition alleges Passenger Transportation Board did not take taxis into account

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read