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10,000 skilled workers attend Irish job fair

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The B.C. Construction Association (BCCA) has returned from its second trip to Ireland this year to recruit tradespeople, which involved a side trip to Scotland to examine the apprenticeship training system.
10,000 skilled workers attend Irish job fair

The B.C. Construction Association (BCCA) has returned from its second trip to Ireland this year to recruit tradespeople, which involved a side trip to Scotland to examine the apprenticeship training system.

“It was a fabulous trip. We had a good reception from the media in the first few days,” said Abigail Fulton, vice-president of the BCCA.

“We promoted the job fair and it worked.”

A delegation of about 15 construction companies led by the BCCA held a job fair in Dublin on Sept. 28-29.

The delegation also hosted additional events in the country.

Fulton and other BCCA staff arrived in Ireland on Sept. 25 to spread the word about the events on local radio and television.

The rest of the delegation arrived two days later.

“It was quite successful,” said Fulton.

“In that job fair we had 10,000 people from priority trades. We collected all the CV’s (curriculum vitae) from those who wanted to leave them. All the employers got really good supply to meet demand. Now we have to match this supply to specific employers.”

The first job fair of the trip demonstrated why the BCCA views Ireland as good country to recruit foreign workers from.

It attracted a large number of high quality candidates with transferable skills, who are willing to work in Canada.

In particular, the BCCA is looking for workers in high demand occupations, including carpenters with experience in form work, crane operators, metal fabricators, welders, rebar workers, concrete workers, electrical estimators and heavy duty mechanics.

The day after the event, the most promising candidates had one to one interviews with employers.

The B.C. construction delegation made 150 job offers for workers to come to B.C. under the Provincial Nominee program and the Temporary Foreign Worker program, as a direct result of the Dublin fair.

The companies have started the process of making applications for these candidates to move through the immigration process.

The BCCA was accompanied on the trip by representatives of the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program, which is promoting this pathway to immigration.

The delegation held a second foreign recruitment event in Cork on Oct. 2, which attracted 600 people.

“We didn’t have as big a turn out in Cork,” said Fulton.

“It was much quieter, but really focused. The employers liked this job fair because they had time to spend with each individual. If we go back, we will set up all the events this way. We will go to the community, provide them with information and let the employers meet the tradespeople.”

The BCCA followed the same approach with a job fair in Belfast on Oct. 4, where about 600 people attended.

By this point, most of the employers had returned to B.C., so interviews didn’t take place.

However, the BCCA provided information to tradespeople and collected more CVs, which were shipped back to Victoria.

In total, the association has collected about 2,000 CVs on the trip, but more are arriving every day by email.

The BCCA is helping companies through the often complicated process of foreign worker recruitment by mitigating the risk for both employers and workers

For the last leg of the trip, Fulton and the BCCA staff went to Glasgow, Scotland between Oct. 8-12 to talk to contractors, training providers, government officials and workers, in order to examine the apprenticeship training system and facilitate future recruitment in this country.

“It was great and people were very welcoming,” said Fulton.

“We got a really good sense of the U.K. training system and attended a Glasgow job fair. The Scottish system has a lot of front end loading with the college training system.”

Apprentices attend college for 19 weeks and 11 weeks in their first and second year respectively, but only spend one week in school in their third and fourth years.

Fulton said this approach to training is used because apprentices are more valuable to their employers in the last years of training.

The BCCA had a booth at a fair, which ran Oct. 13-14,

It was attended by 8,000 people. At the event, they were one of many groups recruiting across various industries. Despite this, the association collected another box of high-quality CVs.

The BCCA led a small group of construction industry leaders from western Canada on a trip to Ireland in March to investigate Irish construction trades training and compare trade qualifications between Ireland and BC.

The delegation was overwhelmed by the response from skilled trades people interested in moving to Canada, with about 20,000 people attending the two day event.

by Richard Gilbert

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