As B.C. continues to battle the ever-growing labour shortage the tourism and construction sectors have formed a unique partnership to combat the problem.
Go2, the human resources association for the B.C. tourism industry, and the B.C. Construction Association (BCCA) will now work together to promote employment opportunities for families.
“Tourism and construction are very similar,” said Arlene Keis, CEO of go2.
“We work in all parts of the province, in rural and urban settings, we both have large employers and very small employers, we both have seasonal operations, we both have jobs for skilled and unskilled workers, we both have jobs for youth and students part time, and both sectors have really great career paths for someone that is coming in.
“So we thought, ‘how could we take advantage of this and leverage it?’”
Both sectors have also commonly been part of the same career fairs and outreach programs nationally and internationally and so it just made sense, said Keis, to work together to bring new workers to B.C.
“…The first thing we hope to get out of it is that if we can’t go to a particular career fair, or follow up on a particular initiative, then the BCCA will do it for both of us, and vice versa,” she said.
The idea behind the partnership is to help entire families find work in B.C. So if the BCCA is headhunting a master carpenter, perhaps go2 can find the spouse and even the kids a job in tourism.
If the entire family is working here it is much more likely they will become long-term employees and residents said Keis.
“Once here with families they can be sponsored for permanent residence through the provincial nominee program, which has happened in a couple of times already,” she said.
A case in point is Heiko and Veronika Hoffman. The German couple moved to Vancouver last year where he works as a master bricklayer and she deals with German-speaking travel wholesalers for Rocky Mountaineer Vacations.
“They loved it here and they already have their permanent residency papers work in progress,” said Keis.
Tourism and construction are two of the province’s largest economic drivers and both are worried about labour shortages. With $142 billion in major projects planned leading up to 2014, the construction industry is looking at a shortage of skilled workers of 38,000 due to general demand and retirement.
The tourism sector is facing a shortage of 84,000 new skilled workers by 2015 based on industry growth projections.
This alliance, formalized by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, is a boon to Whistler too said Keis.
“You can see the advantages for a place like Whistler,” she said.
“It is a very expensive (place to live) with one person working so having the ability to attract families for jobs in Whistler is very valuable.”
Added Manley McLachlan, president of the BCCA in a statement: “Most workers would like to see that there are jobs for their spouse as well.
“Also, we want the move to be permanent, so it is important to provide support and opportunity for the whole family. By partnering with go2 we can work together, not just to ease our shortage issues, but to ensure a positive and successful experience of the entire immigrant family.”