As employers in British Columbia continue to battle against labour shortages, worker associations are expressing concern over the latest overseas recruitment efforts.
The B.C. Construction Association returns to Ireland at the end of this month in an attempt to recruit 600 workers for various projects throughout the province. The same association has traveled to the region before, claiming that Ireland’s training and credential system mirror closely the requirements for skilled trades in Canada.
Last March the Canadian recruiters saw over 20,000 Irish workers at job fairs. The situation has been dire for workers in Ireland, many of whom have had trouble finding secure employment since the recession in 2008.
However, labour groups argue that Canadians are facing the same challenges in finding employment and argue that B.C. employers could easily fill their needs without looking abroad.
The concern, say worker advocates, is that Canadian skilled workers are often unionized, or can seek work elsewhere when temporary workers are often tied to the same employer for the duration of their stay in Canada.
However, many experts do acknowledge that even if there are currently enough Canadians to fill the job vacancies, they will not be able to fill the vast shortages expected in the near future. Statistics currently estimate that there will be over one million job openings in the next ten years with over 100,000 in the skilled trades alone.
“There’s lots of evidence to suggest we’re not doing enough to train construction workers in skilled trades in British Columbia, and if even half these projects come through we’re going to have a crisis unless we start now to deal with the problem,” said B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair.
The B.C. recruitment team will also include two representatives from the Provincial Nominee Program who will be able to provide information to Irish workers looking to relocate to Canada on a permanent basis. The PNP allows provincial governments to fast-track immigration applications from workers whose skills are most in-demand.
Source: Ottawa Citizen