A job fair hosted by construction industry associations April 18 drew 650 people looking for work – and many of them walked away with invitations to interview for positions.
Jaqueline Sanderson is ready to work in the heavy construction industry, something she’s been thinking of since she was very young.
“I used to drive a skid steer on my reserve,” Sanderson said. “As soon as I was old enough to drive, my dad stuck me on the skid steer.”
Sanderson talked to the heavy construction companies that joined others across the broad construction industry, setting up booths at the full-day job fair, organized by the Manitoba Construction Sector Council at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre.
The MCSC hoped to attract 250 job-seekers. Good planning and high-profile media attention in advance of the fair drew a capacity crowd.
“We are thrilled by the interest and the turnout the job fair got,” MCSC Executive Director Carol Paul said. “We knew it would be popular, but this far exceeded expectations and it helps us to plan for what we hope to be a similar event next year.”
Job seekers filled out registration forms prior to entering the fair where companies that belong to Manitoba Heavy Construction, Winnipeg Construction and the Manitoba Home Builders’ associations were set up. The associations are core members of MCSC. Paul said the MCSC will be following up with each individual who registered.
The fair gave free entry to job-seekers, who floated among close to 30 booths set up by businesses drawn across all elements of the construction industry.
“Within the next five years, some 4,500 workers will be retiring from our industry, compounding the shortages of skilled labour and trades people we’re dealing with now,” MHCA President and CEO Chris Lorenc said.
“Workforce shortages are serious challenges for our companies in managing their projects and create real difficulty in their plans for taking on new work.”
Don Hurst, MHCA Director of WORKFORCE Education and Training, noted the heavy construction industry welcomes those with little or no experience, provides safety and health training prior to starting work and then gives individuals on-the-job training via entry positions, allowing them to “earn while they learn.”
“There’s loads of opportunity in the industry, allowing those who begin at entry level to work steadily up as skills and experience are gained, to positions that pay well above average wages and eventually to lucrative careers.”
That’s music to the ears of many at the job fair.
Khawla Adem Mohamedali is graduating high school this year and is contemplating pursuing a post-secondary program in construction. A job in heavy construction would be great entry experience, she said.
“I think I’m looking for a new experience, different things,” said Adem Mohamedali, who has worked in janitorial services and as a line worker with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corp.
Oleh Yakymchuk is looking for a foothold in the workforce, having arrived in Winnipeg three weeks ago from Ukraine. He has more than 10 years’ experience in construction, primarily with the trades.
“We need work,” said Olha Yakymchuk, his wife, noting Oleh is looking at all jobs across the industry, eager to work on improving his English skills.
Sanderson believes she has some ready-made skills that employers could use and wants to start as soon as possible. “I feel so passionate about driving big machines.”
Click here to see MHCA President & CEO interviewed on the job fair.