September 19, 2012
Association heads back to Ireland for skilled workers
For the second time this year, the B.C. Construction Association (BCCA) is going to Ireland to recruit tradespeople, but this mission includes a visit to Scotland to examine the apprenticeship training system.
“I am really looking forward to visiting Ireland again and seeing the people,” said Abigail Fulton, vice-president of the BCCA.
“I am so impressed with the Irish tradespeople. They are all doing the best they can and want to find new opportunities. We want to do our best to help these people and get them a job.”
A delegation of about 15 construction companies led by the BCCA are going to Ireland in late September and early October to attend several job fair events.
Fulton said the BCCA views Ireland as a good country to recruit foreign workers because of the availability and high quality of skilled labour, skills transferability and a willingness to work in Canada.
The Construction Sector Council estimates that the B.C. construction industry will need to attract and retain 20,000 new workers to meet labour requirements between 2012 and 2020.
Investment in natural resource, industrial and utility projects in northern B.C. will drive employment growth in several construction trades over the next few years.
“Construction is a cyclical industry, so in the early stage we are looking for carpenters with experience in form work, crane operators, metal fabricators, welders, rebar workers and concrete workers,” said Fulton.
“These are the occupations that are in high demand. However, some occupations are always in demand, such as electrical estimators and heavy duty mechanics. We also get specific requests, for example fine grading in roadbuilding.”
Fulton and other BCCA staff will arrive in Ireland on Sept. 25 to spread the word about the job fairs on local radio and television.
The rest of the B.C. delegation will arrive on Sept. 27 and the first job fair will take place in Dublin on Sept. 28-29.
This will be followed by a day of interviews with the most promising candidates on Sept. 30.
As a service to members, the BCCA is helping companies through the often complicated process of foreign worker recruitment by mitigating the risk for both employers and workers.
“A big barrier is immigration, which seems insurmountable for some employers,” said Fulton.
“So, we are trying to help them out and relieve some of this pressure.”
The BCCA has a partnership with the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program to use this potential pathway to immigration.
The delegation is holding foreign recruitment events in Cork on Oct. 2 and Belfast on Oct. 4.
Then the delegation will return to Dublin on Oct. 5 for another event, as well as the Working Abroad Job Fair on Oct. 6-7.
Next, the delegation is going to Glasgow, Scotland to talk to contractors, training providers, government officials and workers between Oct 8-12, in order to examine the apprenticeship training system and facilitate the recruitment in this country.
This will be followed by a job fair on Oct. 13-14.
A trip to Ireland in March was led by a small group of construction industry leaders from western Canada.
The trip was designed to investigate Irish construction trades training and compare trade qualifications between Ireland and BC.
The delegation was overwhelmed by the response they received from skilled tradespeople interested in moving to Canada, with about 20,000 people attending the two day event.
About 300-400 people were in front of the BCCA’s booth on a continuous basis for eight hours on the first day and ten hours on the second.
Event organizers extended business hours to accommodate as many people as possible.
Thousands more, who queued up outside the venue, were turned away.
This delegation concluded that the transferability of apprenticeship qualifications from Ireland is very good and the Irish apprenticeship system is a good fit in western Canada.
The BCCA started receiving Irish resumes as soon as they returned to B.C. and resumes have continued to arrive from qualified tradespeople and construction professionals seeking employment in B.C.
Currently, the BCCA has about 1,000 resumes in their database.
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