PEI

P.E.I. construction industry in need of 300 to 400 new workers

The Island's construction industry has 300 to 400 vacancies at the moment, and that's after hiring about 400 employees already this year.

About 400 hires so far in 2018, says association's general manager

'We certainly want to target the great folks that are home on vacation or visiting. But we also want to target some new blood as well,' says Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I. (Brian McInnis/The Canadian Press)

The Island's construction industry has 300 to 400 vacancies at the moment, and that's after hiring about 400 employees already this year.

Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I., says skilled tradespeople are needed in many types of work.

"That could be anywhere from carpenters to electricians to plumbers to HVAC personnel, masons, stonemasons and so on."

Targeting Islanders and 'new blood'

Recruiting efforts are targeting people from all walks of life, Sanderson said — Islanders living at home or away, newcomers, women, men, Indigenous people and youth.

To that end, the association has been advertising at the Charlottetown Airport, as well as some radio spots.

Sam Sanderson is general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"We certainly want to target the great folks that are home on vacation or visiting. But we also want to target some new blood as well," Sanderson said.

"We're trying to reach all target audiences and letting them know the great opportunities that there are in the industry."

Website matching employees with employers

The construction association launched a new website in February which connects job seekers with open positions.

"It's been directing a lot of traffic, matching up potential employees with potential employers," Sanderson said.

Workers are needed 'anywhere from carpenters to electricians to plumbers to HVAC personnel, masons, stonemasons and so on,' Sanderson said. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Lately, the site has had traffic from as far away as the Middle East, India, South Africa and Ireland, and a Facebook page was recently launched for the site, Sanderson said.

"It's going well, but we can certainly use more people."

'Quality of life' advantage

The labour shortage is affecting the construction industry across Canada, Sanderson said, with an estimated 21 per cent of workers set to retire in the next seven to 10 years.

P.E.I. can't offer the highest wages, but there are other benefits to living and working here, Sanderson said.

The newcomers coming to P.E.I. certainly have a desire and a drive to work. They want to provide for their families.— Sam Sanderson, Construction Association of P.E.I.

"We're never going to be able to match Alberta and the west's wages in certain areas. One thing we have over certain areas is quality of life," he said.

"Our cost of living is not as high. We're not paying [up to] $900,000 for a house. We're 10 minutes away from a beach in any direction," he said.

Newcomers a 'tremendously great fit'

"There's all kinds of great reasons to come back to P.E.I. We do have some unique opportunities and availability that other areas don't have and you know, it's not always about the money either."

Immigrants to the Island are also the target of recruitment efforts, Sanderson said.

"That is a tremendously great fit, to be honest. The newcomers coming to P.E.I. certainly have a desire and a drive to work. They want to provide for their families."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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