Building capacity with onsite job training could help ease the situation, says Chris Plosz.

It’s going to be a big year for Chris Plosz as he takes on the role of chair of BILD Alberta’s board of directors. Plosz, who is president of Section23 Developments and Baywest Homes, is well known in the Calgary housing industry. “It feels great to take on this role. I’ve been volunteering almost my entire career in land and housing. I joined my first committee in 1999,” says Plosz, who served as a BILD Alberta board member before becoming chair. “There’s lots going on in this industry. A lot going on, but lots of challenges.” As chair, Plosz will be a guiding force as BILD Alberta — the Building Industry and Land Development Alberta Association — makes moves towards its goal of building capacity in the housing industry.

Two intertwined issues top the agenda. The most familiar one is housing affordability. “Housing affordability is a big challenge for everybody. As an industry, we need to do our part, while also collaborating with government, trades and other stakeholders,” says Plosz, adding that meetings with, and collaboration between, BILD Alberta, other industry leaders, and the provincial government will continue to be pivotal.“We’re optimistic about the steps the provincial government is going to take. There’s lots of energy around it right now.”

The second issue is labour shortages, which slows construction and drives up costs. BILD Alberta is looking at ways to develop capacity in this area, including by working with the provincial government to expand training programs. Plosz says that it’s essential to start tackling these problems now to ensure the industry can keep up with the demands of the market and also the needs of the population. The major question BILD Alberta is looking to answer when it comes to labour, Plosz says, is “How do we get to a place where we’re bringing people in, giving them skills, and getting them into industry?”

“When we sat down to work on our longer-term strategic plan, we looked at whatever we could do to help with that.” The answer, according to Plosz, is to hire people who don’t have any skills and train them on the job. “Labour shortage isn’t on everyone’s radar but it’s on ours. We want to train people so they can get to work. There are lots of people looking for jobs and there is a huge need in untrained roles. That’s how we’re going to build capacity,” says Plosz. Dialogue with the provincial government is key to making meaningful, long-term gains in this area. Plosz says that many important conversations are being had and that he’s expecting to see some major announcements from the provincial government in early 2024.

Beyond tackling current issues, the role of the board at BILD Alberta is to highlight upcoming and potential issues. The organization represents more than 1,300 industry members from across the province’s eight constituent associations.“We rely on volunteers. We get all the best minds from all the member companies out there,” says Plosz. 

“As an industry we’re always up for challenges. This is just another period of time where we’re facing challenges. We’re one of those groups that can pivot. We can come up with solutions and we’ve got the right people we can draw on.”

See the full Calgary Herald article here