The Province of B.C. and the BC Construction Association (BCCA) marked International Women’s Day on March 8 with the launch of the Builders Code, a comprehensive program they say aims to address B.C.’s skilled labour shortage by reducing harassment, bullying and hazing on construction worksites. The Builders Code defines an “Acceptable Worksite”and provides employers with tools, training and resources to improve and promote safe and productive worksite behaviour.
The new code introduces what its sponsors say includes an ambitious “10×10” goal to have B.C.’s skilled workforce comprised of 10 per cent tradeswomen by 2028, a standard not yet achieved by any Canadian province.
The Builders Code expands the definition of construction safety beyond physical hazards to include stress or distraction caused by discrimination, bullying, hazing or harassment. A Builders Code worksite will seek to be free from behaviour that threatens the stability of work conditions including job performance, health, well-being, safety, productivity and the efficiency of workers.
At its core, the Builders Code seeks to improve the retention of tradeswomen who are working in B.C.’s construction sector. Project partners quickly recognized that to be successful, the Builders Code could not single out tradeswomen for special consideration. Every person working on a worksite is affected by stress and distraction caused by bullying, hazing and harassment.
Partners in introducing the code include the Industry Training Authority, WorkSafeBC, LNG Canada, BC Construction Safety Alliance, Employee Benefits Trust, Minerva Foundation of B.C. and four Regional Construction Associations (NRCA, SICA, VICA, VRCA).
“As Canada’s largest construction project, we have already helped provide training for more than 1,000 apprentices in BC.,” said Andy Calitz, CEO, LNG Canada. “We are committed to creating a workplace that supports equity and diversity. Our support of the Builders Code will help the province grow and retain its skilled labour pool. We look forward to working with contractors and suppliers whose commitment to safety and diversity matches our own.”
The Builders Code will be a valuable opportunity and asset for contractors looking for competitive ways to attract and retain skilled tradespeople at a time when B.C. faces a skills shortage of 7,900 workers, and when tradeswomen comprise only 4.7 per cent of the skilled workforce. Although women, youth, and other equity-seeking groups are entering construction trades at a higher rate than in the past, retention rates remain low. First year retention rates for women apprentices have anecdotally been estimated at less than 50 per cent. By comparison, first year retention rates for men are estimated at 70 per cent. Those contractors who lead the way in culture change will have distinct advantages.