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.

Just Posted

Bowen Byram goes fourth overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft

The Cranbrook native was picked by the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL draft

Keeping Kimberley’s float afloat

Kimberley has had a float for about 40 years, and for all… Continue reading

Still time to sign up, volunteer for the Spartan Race at Kimberley Alpine Resort

This year will see a few changes to the courses: less climbing, more traversing says Race Director.

WildSafeBC offering electric fencing cost-share program

The program aims to deter grizzly bears from farmland and livestock.

Kimberley students weeding Mark Creek

Back in the spring, a group of Selkirk teachers agreed to work… Continue reading

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read