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Worker crunch sparks plea

Supporters of a new skilled trades school for Ottawa yesterday urgedgovernments to spend $69 million to get a planned facility built,before a local shortage of skilled workers gets worse.


Supporters of a new skilled trades school for Ottawa yesterday urged governments to spend $69 million to get a planned facility built, before a local shortage of skilled workers gets worse.


Algonquin College has committed $35 million — or one-third of the cost of a new trades centre — and hopes to build a facility by 2011, but it needs the provincial and federal governments to each put in $35 million. Representatives of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) joined college officials yesterday to urge governments to help avoid a looming skilled trades shortage.


Canada’s construction industry must recruit 300,000 people by 2016 to replace retired workers, said Jeff Morrison with the CCA. “It’s such a huge demand, yet we don’t have the training spaces.”


“The construction industry is facing challenges in finding workers,” said CCA chairman Paul Charette. “More and more companies are turning to foreign workers to fill the demand.”


But other countries are fighting to retain workers for their own needs, said Algonquin College president Robert Gillett. “We have to train our own people.”


Algonquin has 1,000 students studying skilled trades and no room to accommodate more students, Gillett said. “All of Canada needs skilled trades, but first, we need a building.”


The 159,000-square-foot Environmental Demonstration Centre for Construction Trades and Building Sciences would be located west of the Woodroffe Avenue campus.


“When you talk to construction companies, the No. 1 thing is the shortage,” said Mike Sharp, chairman of the Ottawa Construction Association.

 
 
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