Home Trade industry ‘Leading the Way’: Campaign Raising $15 Million for Business Scholarships

‘Leading the Way’: Campaign Raising $15 Million for Business Scholarships


“This is an Alberta initiative with an Alberta solution,” said Jay Westman, president and CEO of homebuilder Jayman Built.

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A campaign to raise $15 million for construction scholarships plans to help Alberta meet a demand for skilled labour.

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Jay Westman, president and CEO of homebuilder Jayman Built, announced the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) fundraising effort Oct. 18. It aims to support students pursuing careers in construction by doubling the $7 million already raised by industry partners.

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Westman, who has donated $2 million to the cause, said a shortage of skilled labor was extending construction times and threatening the affordability of homes in the province.

“This is an Alberta initiative with an Alberta solution,” he said in a press release issued by SAIT and its sister polytechnic, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). “I have chosen to lead by example and lead this investment campaign to have a noticeable impact by overcoming student financial concerns, while building much-needed building capacity in our industry across Alberta.

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Demand for housing and workers

According to a March forecast from Buildforce Canada, an industry group that tracks labor trends, Alberta’s construction market has contracted after peaking in 2014, and many workers have left the industry or sought work outside the province before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 made matters worse.

While the market showed signs of recovery in 2021 with investment in the residential sector, the forecast is for “modest growth” in the field with the addition of 2,400 workers by 2027.

However, nearly 22,650 workers (12% of the labor force) are expected to retire over the same period, and to meet demand, the industry will need to recruit and train nearly 27,700 additional people, according to forecasts. .

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The fundraising campaign, which feeds into the BILD Alberta scholarships for construction careers, will support students seeking training and employment in a number of related fields, such as carpentry, plumbing, masonry , cabinetry and roofing, said NAIT and SAIT.

Scott Fash, executive director of Building Industry and Land Development Alberta, said there are skill shortages in all construction trades.

“It’s going to have a huge impact on housing affordability if we don’t keep building,” Fash said, adding that amid signs of a recession and headwinds caused by rising interest rates, Edmonton and Calgary need more housing. “And with that, there will be a demand for a lot of people to help build those houses.”

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‘Opening the way’

The City of Edmonton’s mid-year economic update for 2022 predicts soaring construction prices and rising interest rates will dampen housing starts.

Supply-side constraints, inflationary pressures and labor issues have raised the cost of constructing residential and non-residential buildings in the Edmonton census metropolitan area, according to the report.

NAIT President and CEO Laura Jo Gunter said the fundraising campaign will “pave the way” for more job training enrollment that will help meet labor demand in Alberta.

Polytechnics estimate tuition for four-year apprenticeship and diploma programs at more than $5,000, and the campaign could fund about 3,000 awards for homebuilding apprentices and pre-employment students.

“Supporting student scholarships not only removes their financial barriers, but also gives them the help and encouragement they need to succeed and make a real difference in their chosen field,” Gunter said.

— With files from Postmedia

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