Tuesday, June 10, 2008

B.C. building boom far from over

read full article by Tom Fletcher, BC Local News
B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair said the construction industry and the B.C. government are suffering from their own policies as well as a demographic change.

"The last resort is temporary foreign workers," Sinclair said. "We know they're being brought in, we know they're being exploited. And frankly we shouldn't be running around the world stealing skilled trades from other countries, we should be training our own."

He said Canada lags behind other developed countries in its per-capita spending on training, and the B.C. government's decision to "blow up" the union-based apprenticeship programs is hurting the province now.

In May B.C. Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen announced the Industry Training Authority has nearly 40,000 registered apprentices and "youth participants," but more modest completion figures. In the past year carpenter certificates increased from 180 to 385, with similar increases for plumbers, electricians and auto mechanics.

Sinclair said the apprenticeship figures are inflated by including everyone who is in a trades training program.

"In my opinion, an apprentice is only a person who is indentured to an employer," he said.

Wayne Peppard, executive director of the BC Building Trades, said the most acute shortages will be engineering and industrial trades for high-tech projects like a SkyTrain extension in Surrey.

The most acute needs are for construction managers and supervisors, boilermakers, construction millwrights, crane and heavy equipment operators, insulators, ironworkers, pipefitters and welders, as well as electricians, sheet metal workers, plumbers and carpenters for large engineering projects.

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