Concerns about labour shortages and exploding construction costs have the organizers of Vancouver's Olympic Winter Games turning to other countries for skilled labour.
To ensure they have enough workers to complete the Olympic sites before the Games in 2010, contractors have conducted job fairs in England, France, Belgium and other parts of Europe looking for construction workers.
However, the skilled labour shortage will last longer than the Games themselves. The British Columbia Construction Association says that by 2013 the industry will need 50 per cent more workers than it had in 2004 — about 60,000 people.
The Olympic Games, usually a boon to a country’s ailing economy, are coming at a time when unemployment in most of Canada, and B.C. in particular, is at an all-time low.
The organizers anticipated the possible labour shortage, which is why they are beginning to build the venues four years in advance and plan to have most of the projects completed by 2008.
The government has been helping to alleviate the labour shortage by importing workers and increasing skills training. In the past two years, the number of registered apprentices in B.C. has increased from less than 15,000 to more than 23,000.