Three construction associations created a worker-share program in a bid to encourage young construction workers to stay in rural Alberta — and so far it’s working.
A variety of factors can impact the construction industry in rural Alberta, such as a project’s nature of work, an aging workforce and a limited number of people moving into those communities, a spokesperson for the ministry of labour and immigration told CBC News.
But when John Digman noticed young talent leaving the construction industry in Medicine Hat, Alta., he knew he had to act.
“There are a lot of downturns in industry and people get laid off,” said Digman, executive director of the Medicine Hat Construction Association. “They maybe go to one of the bigger accommodations — Edmonton, Calgary — and they don’t come back sometimes.”
Digman partnered with the Grande Prairie Construction Association and the Alberta Construction Association. They reached out to the provincial government, pitching a pilot project that would fund companies to share workers for projects in rural communities.
If a company were to win a number of project bids, for example, it may not have enough people to do the work required. Meanwhile, another company that lost those bids may have to lay off its employees because of a lack of work, Digman explained.
The proposed pilot would allow companies with less work to lend their employees to companies with more work that are in need of workers, he said.