UBCM meeting on skilled labour

Potential solutions to skilled labour attraction challenges were presented to B.C. government representatives at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

Mayor and Council were able to raise concerns during face-to-face meetings with B.C. cabinet ministers in Whistler, including the challenges faced by Penticton industrial area businesses with recruiting and retaining skilled labour.

The City of Penticton met with the Hon. Amrik Virk, Minister of Advanced Education, on filling skilled labour and training gaps in the South Okanagan. Program funding for a permanent welding program in Penticton through one of the existing post-secondary institutions would support the employment needs of the South Okanagan custom manufacturing sector.

Many companies in the area are reporting challenges finding skilled workers in the area in order to fill vacancies from HVAC, to cabinetry/joinery to machinists. Penticton's businesses are facing issues in many skilled labour positions. The most critical and frequent shortage is welders. Companies in Penticton have the most success in apprenticing, attracting and retaining workers who grew up and train here. These workers tend to remain in the province, the region or the city when they have been trained locally.

“Most rural communities understand the labour loss once a student goes to a large centre,” said Penticton Coun. Helena Konanz. “South Okanagan employers need to be able to count on locally available training for their key trades. Welding, machinists, HVAC and fabrication are the key skills needed to support local industry.”

Penticton also met with the Hon. Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, to request the province consider initiating a pilot spousal employment program to address a key barrier to jobs and economic growth, to help the local custom manufacturing sector recruit and retain skilled talent from outside the community.