It’s not new. In fact, it’s been a political issue in B.C. for some time. This province has a problem, but it’s a good problem to have. We need more skilled tradespeople because we have so much work. Even at the small business level, firms in Vancouver are having a hard time filling jobs because not as many young people are choosing to go into the trades. A career in the trades doesn’t have the same cachet as a career requiring a university degree. Compound that problem with a retiring workforce and the future becomes a little shakier in terms of economic growth. I say it’s a good problem to have because the flipside is simply not having enough work to go around. I think most would rather deal with a worker shortage than a work shortage on any given day. However, the issue can still have a negative effect on the economy as businesses struggle to expand. Without employees, businesses are forced to turn down jobs. According to Stats Canada, the number of people leaving the trades workforce is greater than the numbers entering it. A new survey done by the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA) finds jobs and wages are indeed going up, but almost every sector in trades needs workers. The survey finds that just last year 59% of B.C. companies had trouble finding skilled labour, that number in 2018...75%. While it’s a good problem to have there are other issues plaguing the B.C. skilled labour marketplace besides a lack of interest. You guessed it...the cost of housing is forcing people away and limiting the numbers of out-of-province workers coming to B.C. There is no quick fix to this. As well, surveys indicate only 1 in 5 businesses hire apprentices. Even then it’s only the small and medium companies doing it. Convincing a company to take on the obligation of completing the training and experience of someone fresh out of school isn’t easy. Companies avoid this for several reasons including, among others that apprentices are not as productive, that they don't provide a return to the business and that they lack loyalty to the company. Despite all that doom and gloom, the B.C. government makes it relatively easy for people to get into a trade. Its student aid website has this: ‘The B.C. Access Grant for Labour Market Priorities program provides grants to eligible students for things like tools, moving expenses, and loan repayment.’ As well, you can expect $4000 in federal apprenticeship cash grants to help you finish training. Not bad when you think about crippling student loans many graduates face once they leave university and no guarantee of a job. Plus entry into certain programs is likely to be less competitive than say, trying to get into UBC. That’s not to say it doesn’t cost anything to be a tradesperson, two years of school and a four-year apprenticeship can add up. But don’t forget, those four years of apprenticeship are paid while you work. Given the robust nature of B.C.’s marketplace and development, it would seem finding a job is nothing short of a guarantee. The B.C. government also made moves in 2017 to create more seats in trade schools and supports that with $97 million in funding per year. Over the next 10 years roughly 100 thousand jobs in the trades will open up in B.C. We need to tackle this and ensure the economy in B.C. stays robust and businesses keep growing. If you’re a young person looking for your next big move, consider a career in the trades. If you’re a business owner, keep the doors open to apprentices and stay competitive to attract talent.