B.C. association conducts study to understand the labour force better

A project to figure out how to make the home improvement industry more attractive to potential workers has become the focus of the Building Supply Industry Association (BSIA) of British Columbia. To do it, the group has plugged into provincial government funds from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, and has turned to R.A. Malatest and Associates to execute the study.

“It’s an 18-month deep dive into our industry,” says Thomas Foreman, president of the BSIA. Frustrated by the shortcomings of the industry in terms of recruitment and succession planning, Foreman wanted to build a blueprint for helping member companies, which include dealers and suppliers, to tap into the province’s workforce.

Like everywhere in North America, staffing in B.C. has become a huge issue. Yet at the same time, the industry is busier than it has been in two decades, preventing many companies from having the luxury to look ahead and plan new talent strategies. “All of us see what the challenges are,” Foreman adds. “We just don’t have the solutions.”

Take training, for example. Most of the focus in this area is on entry-level skills, important enough for any new employee. But, with some exceptions, there’s a lack of meaningful training for managers and other senior people that might be groomed for more long-term roles.

The answer, Foreman says, is to get more data on who the future workforce represents, and what their values are. Malatest has been constructing and conducting surveys and focus groups to gather that data. The study is now in phase two, and Foreman expects the final report to be ready next spring. “It’s exciting to find out where the gaps are and come up with the solutions.