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February 20, 2006

Construction jobs part of 100,000 shortage

EDMONTON

A meeting on the Alberta’s government’s labour strategy has been told the shortage of workers in the province is now a crisis.

Over the next 10 years, Alberta’s economy is expected to create 400,000 new jobs.

But officials forecast that only 300,000 of them will be filled.

Susan Williams, assistant deputy minister of Human Resources, says the shortage of workers reaches from the construction industry to the retail sector.

One person at the meeting said the government should do more to help businesses teach English to new immigrants in their workforce.

Another said now is a realistic time for Alberta to push for the same status as Quebec and take over the immigration process from the federal government.

Many people at the session also called for special plans to better involve women, low-income Albertans, the disabled, the semi-retired and immigrants in the workforce.

The province already devotes a specific part of its plan to attract more aboriginal people into the workforce.

But some participants suggested workplaces are thirsting for programs and information that will help them achieve greater cultural sensitivity for all groups, including aboriginals.

The government is asking for public feedback on the plan until March 10. It is expected to go before the government’s standing policy committee in June for approval.

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