MHCA acknowledges it is located on Treaty One land and the homeland of the Metis Nation

CCA to focus on workforce recruitment and training

Recruiting new workers for the heavy construction industry is a high priority, and there has to be a way to augment the draw from the domestic labour force with a similar effort in Canada’s immigration programs, MHCA said at a recent industry discussion.

The MHCA was among construction industry representatives attending a Canadian Construction Association meeting where challenges in procurement practices were discussed.

So much of the focus of government programs and construction industry campaigns has been on apprenticeships and tradespersons, MHCA President Chris Lorenc said.

The heavy construction industry requires trained, job-ready labourers but also skilled, experienced employees for such positions as heavy equipment operators and concrete finishers. Because these positions do not necessarily carry post-secondary certifications or degrees, they are largely out of government programs to draw people into skilled-labour workforces, he noted.

(MHCA has a heavy equipment operator certification course, which is recognized in other provinces).

In Manitoba, MHCA has made suggestions to the province, as part of its current immigration program review, on how the provincial nominee program could assist in the recruitment of heavy construction industry workers. Credited with bringing in 15,000 newcomers annually on average, the PNP could change its point system to recognize skilled or experienced individuals who have worked in heavy construction.

“Our industry cannot just pluck workers from other industries and give them a shovel. Considerable training is done before even an entry-level labourer is ready for construction,” Lorenc said. “We have invested a lot of time and effort in, for example, workplace safety education and training, to ensure workers are job-ready when they show up at a job site.”

The issue arose in the June 2 CCA procurement practices session.

Other issues discussed were:

  • Scoping of construction contracts by public owners
    • Scheduling of tendering and award must allow sufficient time for project completion
  • Prompt payment
  • Project owner cost estimates
  • Risk sharing between project owner and contractor
  • Social procurement policies
    • Policies that seek to share benefits of public procurement with the under-represented equity groups must respect the complexity of construction contracts, the fair and transparent bidding process and the worker recruitment and training programs in use by construction industry now

Similar points about recruitment programs were made by heavy construction representatives in an online meeting between local construction associations with the CCA recently.

The CCA has partnered with the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum to offer funding for apprenticeships in construction. The details will be released shortly, the COOs were told.