The mainstream media are finally waking up to something unusual in British Columbia – a labour shortage.
If the experience of Alberta is a guide to our own future, the highly skilled labour will disappear first. The newspapers and radio are already talking about a shortage of welders and machinists. Then the semi-skilled labour and finally the low skilled labour will be recruited to the oil and gas projects.
In Alberta, some fast food joints cannot operate a full week because they simply cannot hire enough people. And Alberta has already drawn in people from all the other provinces. What happened there in a decade will happen here in two years.
I explained this to my wife, a strata manager at Coldwell Banker. Landscapers and gardeners who can operate a bobcat and earn $16 per hour will leave Kelowna for a bulldozer job paying $80 per hour. Hold on to your hat and get ready for increased costs and not being able to get plumbing, electrical or renovation work done on your home or building at any price.
It gladdens my heart that some companies are already taking full advantage of the opportunity, though. By training for job specific skills, we employ more people with great paying jobs. We improve the tax base and finally pay people what they are really worth, so they can support a family and pay their bills. An example? First College in Westbank, is offering courses on non-destructive testing. The graduates clamber over structures like drilling platforms, oil storage containers, bridges and pipelines looking for signs of imminent failure. Some work in labs. It pays extremely well, takes only grade 11 math skills and with a current shortage of 1000 people, everyone gets a job. Oh yes, women are very welcome because they have better attention to detail and paperwork that the other half of mankind.
A noisy minority of poorly informed NIMBY’s (not in my backyard) will not deter the projects that the province so dearly needs and so richly deserves. Those ignoring this vast opportunity should return to their long slumber, like Rip Van Winkle, and rouse themselves when it is over.