This is a post of my criticisms of the current state of British Columbia’s so-called labour (skilled) shortage. In short, there is no shortage because there in plenty of labour out there from the total population; for example, young people—yes, young people. I have had the privilege of volunteering in a education program, assisting disenfranchised people so that they can enter into many of the education programs aimed at getting the skills necessary for the workforce. We encourage the students to use this program as part of their work experience when applying for employment. We help them sell and promote themselves, and hopefully, through the college, they will take with them all the key ingredients necessary for a prosperous career with their future employer(s).
I do not do the teaching, nor do I directly assist the students with their job placement; instead, I handle the phones, taking calls of employers who are checking the qualification and credentials of the applicants and then direct them to the various faculties throughout the campus. These calls account for about twenty percent of all the incoming calls I take on average. We call ourselves the front line–we take the brunt of all the people who call, then screen them out, or pass them on. You can only imagine what types of people I have had to deal with in this very short time that I have being doing this.
In the media, mostly large corporations and key business groups are complaining that we in British Columbia are suffering from an acute labour shortage. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, from what I am experiencing with my own dealings, listening to the employers, is that skilled labour is not the problem, it is paying for it. Yes, paying for the actual men and women who have the necessary credentials and skills, but who will not, in their right minds, work for anything less that what the market demands. Another words, employers expecting a carpenter with 5 years experience, holding a trades certificate, to start at a lower wage bracket than the same person who has all the same skills and experience, but has seniority within the company. Here is the sad fact that I see; we provide the education, knowledge and background for each student, then the student goes off to seek the master who will complete their training. In return, the student then becomes a master, and provides the employer with the skilled workmanship that he/she so desires. In sum–it is up to the student to find the work, and then gain the experience, and/or, start their career with. What is happening is that employers are slamming the door in their faces, and then continue to whine about the labour shortage, saying that they will not take on trainees, that they cannot afford to train when the volume of business is hitting record levels: they want skilled people now! What is worse–employer’s are asking the government to get more people from outside the country who can instantly fill the gap of skilled workers. O-Kay, what are we going to do with our own young people?