Today’s topic is about the so called labour shortage that is occurring in British Columbia, particularly in the building and trades sectors. I believe this claim to be false, extremely subjective and obviously derived by the businesses, contractors and developers whose goal it is to reduce the cost of labour as much as possible. Based on my personal dealings, BC has more than enough labour to go around. Yet the workers are not following what the businesses want them to do; instead, they are going to the highest bidder, not the contractor that is offering minimum wage for the same work, but the one whose paying top-dollar–the rest are moving else where.
My evidence stems from my work and my associates which parallel the housing industry in the Fraser Valley, including the city of Vancouver. We receive on average about 10 resumes per week for hopeful employees who are searching the job banks and answer our call for work. Out of those 10, 6 names will qualify for the short list, and are ask to come in for an interview. It is company policy not to advertise how much we will pay, so the applicant is very much blind as to what sort of wage they will receive before the interview. Over 90 percent will decline the position once the wage has being stated: they simply move on to their next interview which might yield more pay.
This unique increase for labour in our province has created a labourer’s paradise and a nightmare for low-paying business people trying to compete. The whines and cries of the contractor watching his work crew shrink because the contractor down the road has offered more money, is now common place, and the worker with skills can now shop freely for a good wage because of it. As sad as might be for the business person trying to compete in the booming marketplace, he or she must take credit for this dilemma as more and more businesses ride the band-wagon to prosperity. With it, goes the cost of living, and higher wages are now needed to live where the work is.
Canadians are highly mobile people, and migrating to where the employment is, is a Canadian trait. If skilled people are not getting paid for what their value is in the economy, then they will simply pull up the tent-pegs and move onwards to where the work that offers them the best bang-for-their-buck is.
There is enough skilled people to fill the plate in BC; however, paying $10.00 per hour is not going to have them pounding on your door to work for you. Going out and hiring foreign labour is one option, yet this would only exacerbate the situation because then the businesses’ are loosing their means of doing business–their clients! So, in the end, as the business cycle loops upwards, I am left with one uplifting thought to share with all of you: is it nice now that the shoe is on the other foot for a change!