The Construction Association of Prince Edward Island hopes that a new recruitment initiative will address the pending industry labour shortage from retirements that could see as many as 1,800 workers needed on P.E.I. over the next decade.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest concerns or issues in the construction industry right now – is the shortage of skilled trades people, not only provincially but nationally,” said Sam Sanderson, the association’s general manager.
“Right now, we have over 100 job vacancies that we are aware of in the construction industry.”
The recruitment campaign – Island Builders – was officially launched on Friday at the Royalty Centre in Charlottetown. It involves five weeks of radio advertisements on P.E.I. aired by two radio stations. The advertisements began airing on Monday and only on P.E.I., said Sanderson.
The construction association plans to reach out to potential workers in other provinces through social media. Also created for the initiative was the Islandbuilder.ca website, which has information about the construction industry on P.E.I., job postings and training and employment programs, such as job grants.
“We’ve got a vibrant workforce here on P.E.I. We just need to get them into the trade sectors as well,” he said.
The Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning provided $55,000 toward the initiative. Steven Jackson, owner and president of Sperra Construction Group based in Charlottetown, agreed that recruiting skilled workers has been a challenge. But, he sees the past trend of people leaving for western Canada for construction jobs turning around and well-paying opportunities are also on the Island.
The business has about 30 staff throughout the year. It increases in the summer with student workers. He said the skilled labour his company is looking for includes labourers, carpenters, estimators and project managers.
“We can’t find any of those,” Jackson said.
He expects the workload to increase again this year, which makes it tough to meet deadlines with the lack of skilled labour.
“People can only put out so much work,” he said. “You start to run into issues.”