Canadian Design and Construction Report staff writer
Alberta is partnering with two long-standing organizations to support opportunities for youth in the skilled trades and technology industries, with $30.4 million over three years for CAREERS: The Next Generation and Skills Canada Alberta.
The announcement comes as the Calgary and Edmonton construction associations are sounding the alarm about job vacancies leaving commercial and residential builders struggling to find workers.
“Investing in the proven and complementary programs of CAREERS: The Next Generation and Skills Canada Alberta will help our youth discover engaging, high-demand careers that deliver an excellent quality of life and will keep our economic momentum going strong,” said Kaycee Madu, minister of skilled trades and professions.
Targeted support for apprenticeship education is expected to help students develop job-ready skills while strengthening the talent pipeline for business and industry.
Representatives from the Calgary and Edmonton construction associations met with the provincial government this month, to discuss issues including the labour shortage that is an “acute challenge directly affecting the construction industry.”
“We noted that job vacancy in construction increased from 5.8 percent to 7.4 percent between Q1 and Q2 of 2022 and has only increased subsequently,” the group said in a statement.
“To address these challenges, we advocated that the province protect and increase funding for increased apprentice enrollment at post-secondary institutions and associated capital and operational needs; implement recommendations of the Career Education Task Force to support the development of skilled trades interests among junior and senior-high school-aged students; and build on the Alberta is Calling campaign to attract women and workers from underrepresented groups, such as Indigenous people and newcomers, to skilled trades professions in Alberta.”
They warn that labour shortages will result in delays to projects and increased costs.
The construction associations said there are 3,000 to 4,000 construction job vacancies in the Calgary region, forcing some companies to go overseas to recruit workers for the upcoming spring construction season.
According to the Canadian Construction Association said there are more than 93,000 construction job vacancies in the industry that employs 1.3 million.
CAREERS is a not-for-profit foundation that connects high school students with employers for participation in the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). The organization also promotes apprenticeship education options for young Albertans.
In 2022, 372 schools with 1,344 employers to arrange 2,430 internships for high school students interested in a career in the skilled trades. Skills Canada Alberta works with about 19,000 students in 200 Alberta communities annually. Over 34,000 internships have been supported since 1997.