Canada needs skilled "tradespeople" form other nations.
Tens and billions of dollars spent in major infrastructure and commercial development in the Western Canada are fuelling a continuous shortage of skilled people in construction, just as like the energy projects in the east rise up and compete for a dwindling pool of workers.
Dean of construction at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary Larry Rosia said that in spite of a slowdown in the residential construction sector, the need for trade workers hasn’t reduced as any surplus of labour is quickly grabbed up by the booming institutional and commercial sectors in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. He said that there is a huge shortage of construction supervisors, foreman and site superintendents.
According to the Construction Sector Council, the jobs which are experiencing high demand include that of electricians, carpenters, steam fitters, pipe fitters and sheet metal workers.
People are short in supply in almost all the jobs across Canada and the ones most concerned are the construction companies because they are unable to find many people who have more than 15 years of experience and red seal qualifications.
Due to lack of talents, industry groups in B.C. are setting up programs to boost the number of non-traditional workers, such as recently arrived immigrants with compatible skills.
Program director for the B.C Construction Association Paul Mitchell said that the association launched an initiative called the Immigrant Skilled Trades Employment Program that was aimed at connecting the ‘underutilized’ skills of the newly arrived immigrants with the needs of the construction sector. In the last two years the program has been operating, he has placed almost 600 new immigrants with some sort of engineering background, in various roles in construction such as project managers and technicians.
Mitchell says that they take the skills the engineer brings and then unpacks those skills. He said that they don’t promote for individuals to be kept aside and wait to get their credentials recognized. Instead, they engage them in work and this makes credential recognition easier, he added.
Institutions like SAIT also work along with organizations in order to help new immigrants. Rosia says that he is also encouraging many women to get involved in trades. In the past six years, the number of women going into construction trades programs has doubled but he says that they still constitute not more than six to seven percent of the total number of students.
Canada rarely targets skilled tradespeople from other nations to immigrate as the immigration process is biased against the occupation.