(NC) — With $2.9 billion worth of capital projects already underway and another $6.2 billion forecasted over the next five years, the province could be entering a period of prosperity it hasn't seen in decades. However, experts also predict a skilled labour shortage of up to 160,000 workers by 2015.
So will B.C. be able to keep up with demand?
Ardalan Fard, general manager at Archway Construction, thinks so. He believes employers can solve B.C.'s labour demands by hiring more skilled immigrants.
“I immigrated to Canada and remember how hard I worked,” says Fard. “I know that many immigrants already have valuable work experience and training, but they just need Canadian certification.”
Out of Fard's 27 employees, seven are apprentices and many are skilled immigrants.
Fard recently hired Jun Sung Moon as a carpenter apprentice. Moon, 34, had moved from South Korea to pursue a career in interior design.
Struggling to have his work experience recognized, Moon entered the Skilled Trades Employment Program and found he had a natural aptitude for carpentry.
The program, which is managed by the B.C. Construction Association and funded by the Immigrants in Trades Training initiative, introduced Moon to Archway Construction. After a trial shift, he was hired full-time.
Immigrants in Trades Training connects skilled immigrants to training opportunities across British Columbia. It is overseen by the Industry Training Authority, the provincial crown agency responsible for managing B.C.'s trades training and apprenticeship system, and funded through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement.
“When we hired Jun, he had all the right skills and just needed Canadian experience,” Fard recalls. “Hiring him was a great investment.”
Now a registered apprentice, Jun says he hopes to become a certified carpenter. He offers this piece of advice for other immigrants interested in the trades: “Work hard, and don't be afraid to ask for help – it's there if you need it.”
More information is available at www.IITTapprentices.ca.