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Shortage of skilled labour could boost cost of Olympics

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Over the next few years, construction will begin in earnest as Vancouver and Whistler prepare to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The upgrades to Highway 99 are scheduled to begin next spring and run through to 2009. Construction will also get underway for 11 different Olympic and Paralympic venues.

A new report from the Games’ human resources planning committee estimates that the Olympics will result in the creation of more than 130,000 new jobs for the province by 2015. Construction projects will account for the majority of those jobs.

But the B.C. Construction Association recently warned that a shortage of skilled workers could result in as much as a 20 per cent increase in the cost of Olympic facilities.

According to Mike Geoghegan, present of the BCCA, the supply of skilled workers is already falling short of the demand.

"Right now we are moving into a boom and that is wonderful," he said. "But we need to do something on the supply side."

Goeghegan is recommending that the provincial government do more to promote the trades to high school students. He also believes the federal government should do more to welcome immigrants with trade skills to Canada.

The cost of Olympic venues is budgeted at more than $400 million, although that could change once needs are re-evaluated. Details about some of the venues, like a proposed multiplex arena in Whistler, are still under consideration.

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