Serious Jeopardy!!

Due to baby boomer retirements and an aging population, Canada is facing a serious skilled labour shortage. The older average age of many tradespeople and their stated intention to retire suggest that if efforts are not made to train the next generation of skilled workers, Canada’s future economic competitiveness will be in serious jeopardy.

Simply put from the Canadian Apprentiship Forum (caf-fca.org), but what does it mean? Serious jeopardy? It’s sort of like when there are too many rabbits. The wolves eat well, then the rabbit supply drops and the wolves do too because there’s less food. However, in the case of a trades shortage, it means that there will be some rash decisions on the part of those in need, and that will perhaps be fine for a few years, but then something that was festering will boil over. For example; Retired Mr. Adams needs the back wall on his laundry room fixed because the downspout leaked and the water ran into a crack in the stucco and rotted out the wall. He calls a dozen local contractors, handymen, and any relative with a hammer. Unfortunately, because there is a massive trade shortage, only two people answered the phone and only one of them came over. Exhausted from the work to get anyone to come over, and pressured by the fact that the post that holds up that part of the house is in jeopardy of collapsing and bringing down the roof, he doesn’t look for three quotes. It just has to get it fixed. The contractor who came out was available for a reason – he’s not that good, uninsured, and won’t be araound next year.

So, what’s the problem then? Well, Mr. Adams’ wall may rot out again because the stucco wasn’t fixed properly – the downspout was just caulked, and the wet drywall was just dried and repainted. The wet insulation? Still there. Fast forward five years. Mr. Adams’ health is troubling him. He’s having a tough time breathing and is always coughing. Turns out there’s a grocery store worth of mushrooms growing inside the wall where he washes his dirty clothes.

It wasn’t one person’s fault. Mr. Adams didn’t cause the problem, and he tried to call a few people as he’s always done when he found something wrong with his home. The contractor did the best he thought he could do. Collectively, it is their fault, along with the schools, government, teachers, parents, building code, etc. Why? It’s because as said at the beginning of this post – the baby boomers are retiring. So what! Well, the generation that followed mostly went into IT or things other than the proverbial blue collar jobs. That means that there were very few to pass the baton to. The current generation, lovingly named the “Entitlement Generation” by some, just arent interested, at all. We could get into the whole political arguement about cut backs in the schools and lack of “bring your kid to work”, but the circle comes around to a shortfall, simply.

Back to Mr. Adams’ wall. It was “fixed” by the guy who was available to come over. He helped Mr. Adams and we’re all thankful. Honestly. The problem was that it wasn’t done, shall we agree, “properly”. Fast forward 8-10 years, with the mushrooms. Those mushrooms have taken over the adjoinging bedroom wall now, where Mr. Adams sleeps. Maybe Mr. Adams lives in a multi-family condo and that wall is part of the four storey, 130 unit building. You get the idea. Again, this isn’t Mr. Handyman’s doing. He was the only one who came.

So, what do we do? As a homeowner, council member, management company, or anyone on that end of the phone, please be extremely patient with us, on the other end of the phone. There aren’t many of us to go around – good ones that is (selfish boast). You needn’t know our job (because you wouldn’t be calling if you could do it yourself), but please understand that when the price seems astronomical, it’s ok to ask why. It’s perfectly fine to know what is going on to fix your home’s problem. Please do your diligence and ask for insurance, referenes, credentials. I (we) won’t bite. We will get through this. We did last time. Yeah, it’s happened before.

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