Alberta’s construction industry funds grants to help fill labor shortages

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A looming labor shortage has prompted construction industry executives to raise millions of dollars in grants to attract more people to the industry.

The leaders of SAIT, construction company Jayman Built and industry association BILD Alberta on Tuesday announced the release of a more than $7 million scholarship fund to help 1,400 students pursue an education in construction.

Jay Westman, Jayman Built’s chief executive officer, said the grants are designed to help prop up job vacancies, which have been growing “at an alarming rate” since the turn of the century, “making this the biggest and most challenging problem facing the industry.” ever confronted.”

Westman said the drop in the number of tradesmen has tripled the time it takes to build homes.

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“In other words, we’re not building houses anymore, it’s just taking longer,” Westman said.

Given his more than four decades of homebuilding experience, Westman said recent rate hikes below historic highs are likely to delay demand.

And he said building materials like lumber have experienced shocks in the supply chain, with prices rising and falling, but labor availability has continued to deteriorate, driving up waiting times and wages.

Jayman Built’s CEO said he worked with other construction and homebuilders to raise funds for the scholarship and set a new goal of $15 million to help about 3,000 students of all backgrounds.


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“[Through]the support and input I had already received, it was a clear indication that this problem facing the industry is province-wide,” Westman said, urging other construction companies to take action donate scholarship. “We’ll need everyone.”

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SAIT President Dr. David Ross said the grants for the new building would benefit students at his school and NAIT, as well as youth work in rural and urban high schools.

Speaking of a recession on the horizon, Ross said supporting skilled worker education now could help the industry for years to come.

“There is a critical shortage across all industries in the province,” Ross told Global News. “And even if there is a recession, we believe the gap is so large that we will have to work very hard to ensure we build the support for more apprentices entering the various industrial sectors, including housing .”

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at only less than 10 percent of employees, the construction sector is the third largest employer in the province.

Scott Fash, executive director of BILD ALberta, said housing construction was responsible for over 120,000 jobs and $8.8 billion in wages last year. However, he noted that one in five skilled workers is expected to retire before 2030.

“Craftsmanship is a critical component in building affordable, safe and energy efficient homes in this province. They’re incredibly high-paying, rewarding careers, and we need to better promote them and remove all barriers to entry,” Fash said.

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A SAIT press release states that tuition for apprentice and diploma programs in fields such as carpentry, plumbing, sheet metal work, electricians and glaziers can exceed $5,000.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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