Greg Baynton is the CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association. VICA is the hub that supports and helps grow the construction industry, making it a key indicator of our economic health.
We had the opportunity to speak with Greg about the state of the industry, what sectors are (and will be) driving our economy, and the prospect for people who want to live in the South Vancouver Island region. The news was encouraging on all fronts, particularly for young people weighing their options.
If you’d like to listen in on our conversation, simply press play. If you’d prefer a quick synopsis, read on. Either way, enjoy!
Baynton sees tech, tourism, healthcare, retail, ship maintenance, and specialized manufacturing driving our economy forward. Victoria’s status as provincial capital and base of operations for the Department of National Defence are also big economic drivers that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Baynton pointed out massive infrastructure projects that are putting pressure on his industry to recruit talent. “If you look at the Site C dam, that project alone needs 28 qualified crane operators – more than we have in the entire province!”
Finally, Baynton highlighted the retirement industry as one to watch. “If you look at our great climate, and the growing numbers of boomers reaching retirement, you’ll have no trouble imagining everything from construction to retirement-specific healthcare growing around it.”
To feed the growing demand for qualified labour, more high school graduates need to be lured into the trades. “I’m happy to say that our attraction rate is getting better and better. Today, about one in 69 students is choosing the trades after high school.”
Baynton points out advantages like ‘earn while you learn’ education and wage averages second only to the oil and gas industry as powerful motivators.
As well, he believes the local education system is embracing progress when it comes to turning out qualified tradespeople. “Our education system is excellent, with the South Island Partnership bringing together all the colleges, coordinating output and helping focus the priorities of educators.”
Good thing, as Baynton believes the construction industry is coming under increasing stress to meet higher customer standards, and more stringent regulatory demands. “We need to develop the right people with the right skillset at the right time to guarantee a healthy industry. After all, the ground is literally shifting beneath our feet.”
A final encouraging thought? “I’m excited to see a more diverse workforce. We have women on boards of our companies, and if you look through the hoarding at one of the many projects downtown, you’ll see a growing number of women on the jobsite.”