Employers and workers in the construction sector will have better support as the Province launches the Workplace Innovation Fund, a program focused on labour supply and inclusion, along with new ways of improving productivity and employee retention.
“The Workplace Innovation Fund centres around developing sector-wide solutions that can help increase construction productivity and prepare a talented workforce for the challenges that lie ahead,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “In order to build more homes for people, we need to support the construction sector, and we have heard that one of the greatest challenges they are facing is the need for a strong skilled labour force. This fund is responding to address multiple workforce challenges, including developing technologies to increase productivity and supporting the hiring and retention of good people who have the skills required in construction as new technologies are developed.”
Part of the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, the Workplace Innovation Fund will fund innovative projects to tackle the current labour shortage, better prepare employers and workers for the changing economy, and attract, hire and retain a diverse workforce.
The Workplace Innovation Fund seeks to help address five critical areas in the construction industry where government can support workforce development:
- supporting industry to adopt new technologies and improve productivity;
- improving workplace culture and human resource practices to attract and retain workers, including under-represented and diverse workers;
- developing and supporting innovative training practices;
- elevating the prestige and awareness of the industry and a career in construction; and
- streamlining career pathways for newcomers.
Fostering innovation within the construction industry will support the Homes for People plan. This means embracing new technologies, such as digital building-permitting processes, mass timber to reduce carbon emissions and prefabrication to cut down construction time.
“We know one of the biggest challenges facing our province right now is the need to quickly grow our housing supply,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “This fund will help us continue to build new homes at historic rates by closing gaps in the labour force, increasing productivity and introducing lower emissions technologies to the benefit of everyone.”
Initial concept proposals will be accepted starting Oct. 11, 2023. The initial intake of proposals closes at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific time) on Nov. 10, 2023. Grants up to $5 million per project are available. Eligible applicants include, but aren’t limited to:
- businesses and for-profit organizations, including Indigenous and First-Nation-owned enterprises;
- not-for-profit and/or social enterprise operations;
- labour organizations;
- local governments; and
- consortia or partnerships.
The Workplace Innovation Fund encourages applicants to collaborate between the sector, innovators and post-secondary institutions.
“One of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry today is finding skilled workers,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “By helping more people learn about opportunities in construction, employers will have better access to skilled workers and create well-paying jobs for British Columbians.”
The StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, released May 2, 2023, is a cross-government plan to make education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to help prepare the people of B.C. for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
“Developing a robust workforce is vital to our Province’s future economic growth,” said Shelley Gray, CEO, SkilledTradesBC. “We are excited to see this investment go towards building a strong and diverse trades-talent pipeline and driving innovation and progress across the construction industry. Together with our partners we are supporting more British Columbians to discover the endless possibilities skilled trades careers have to offer.”
Budget 2023 invests $480 million over three years to support the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan to work to break down barriers to post-secondary education so more people can get training for in-demand careers and so employers can access the talent they need.
- Between 2022 and 2032, the construction industry is expected to post 72,700 job openings, accounting for more than 7% of the total job openings in the province.
- Budget 2023 supports the Homes for People action plan, starting with more than $4 billion over three years and a commitment to invest $12 billion over the next 10 years to deliver more homes for people faster.
- The Province is on track to deliver a projected 108,000 homes completed or under construction by 2027-28, with tens of thousands more homes to come through other avenues.
For information about the Workplace Innovation Fund, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/technology-innovation/workplace-innovation-fund
For information about StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/jobs- and-training
For more about the Homes for People action plan, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing/