builders code

B.C. Builders Code to improve worker retention

Monday, March 11, 2019

A new initiative called Builders Code aims to address B.C.’s skilled labour shortage by reducing harassment, bullying and hazing on construction worksites.

The Builders Code was launched on International Women’s Day by the provincial government and industry partners including the BC Construction Association (BCCA), Industry Training Authority, WorkSafeBC and LNG Canada.

A key goal is to have women make up 10 per cent of B.C.’s construction trades by 2028, a standard not yet reached by any province in Canada. Currently, women comprise only 4.7 per cent of B.C.’s construction trades.

The Builders Code, which includes a voluntary standard code of conduct for all workers on construction sites in B.C, expands the definition of construction safety beyond physical hazards to include stress or distraction caused by discrimination, bullying, hazing or harassment. A Builders Code worksite will seek to be free from behaviour that threatens the stability of work conditions including job performance, health, well-being, safety, productivity and the efficiency of workers.

The Builders Code will be a valuable opportunity and asset for contractors looking for competitive ways to attract and retain skilled tradespeople at a time when B.C. faces a skills shortage of 7,900 workers. Although women, youth, and other equity-seeking groups are entering construction trades at a higher rate than in the past, retention rates remain low. First year retention rates for women apprentices have anecdotally been estimated at less than 50 per cent. By comparison, first year retention rates for men are estimated at 70 per cent.

“A skilled tradesperson is a valuable asset, not a gender or demographic,” said Chris Atchison, president, BCCA. “Worksite behaviour is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The resources are available to all construction employers and we’re confident they will be utilized.”

Reaching the 10 per cent goal will equate to adding another 9,500 women into the skilled trades in B.C.’s construction industry. That achievement would be especially significant as it would effectively erase B.C.’s projected skills gap of 7,900 workers.

The Builders Code pilot will highlight the business and safety implications of worksite behaviour and provide employers with the tools they need to improve retention. Employers can access no-cost posters and policies, training, and advice from experts with experience in human resources management, including mediation and conflict resolution.

Throughout 2019, the Builders Code partners will continue to make equity and diversity a corporate leadership priority for construction employers, rolling out expanded resources and services in every region of the province.

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