B.C. construction industry targets California for workers

B.C.’s construction industry returned from California last week with hundreds of potential leads for construction workers.

B.C.’s construction industry returned from California last week with hundreds of potential leads for construction workers.

The BC Construction Association got the leads from a job fair last week sponsored by the County of Riverside, a region with a high unemployment rate and a large number of construction workers.

Roughly 500 workers showed up at the fair to find out about working in B.C., said BCCA vice-president Abigail Fulton.

It is just the latest in a number of trips the association has taken in search of skilled construction workers.

The B.C. construction industry is anticipating a shortage of at least 20,000 skilled workers over the next five years. Large-scale industrial projects in northern B.C. – including pipelines, mines and liquefied natural gas plants – are driving the shortage, not residential construction.

The association targets English-speaking regions with high unemployment and trades training that matches Canada’s. The association has been to Scotland and has gone to Ireland twice and has about 2,000 resumes in its database from those countries.

“Several hundred hires have been made from Ireland since the middle of October,” Fulton said.

“We look for countries where they’re having a downturn in their economy, because we don’t want to be seen raiding people. We go to Ireland, they welcome us. The same with California – they’re putting on the fair for us.”

Riverside County has a 12% unemployment rate, Fulton said. Workers from California who decide to come to B.C. to work can come in under temporary foreign worker or provincial nominee programs.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv

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