Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean will need 400 new graduate workers per year by 2026, estimated the Commission de la construction du Québec, a lack of succession that is pushing entrepreneurs to slow down.
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The owners of Les Cuisines Modernes, located in the borough of Chicoutimi, in Saguenay, have put their expansion project on hold due to a lack of manpower.
“We could double the area of our workshop,” said one of the co-owners, Marie-Kim Gagné. “Currently, we are doing one kitchen or one new house per day, but we could easily do two with the demands we have.”
“We have to refuse several contracts,” confirmed his sister, also co-owner, Jessika Gagné.
The Gagné sisters are thinking big for the family business founded 35 years ago, but they have to turn down contracts.
They would like to be able to count on five or six additional workers.
“We called on companies,” said Marie-Kim Gagné. “We hired headhunters, in short, we tried everything for a few years now to find people and grow the family business that we acquired five years ago. We are ready to train people interested in joining our team in the workshop. It just takes manual people who know their tape measure.
Like many other companies in the construction industry, Les Cuisines Modernes also urgently needs qualified carpenters.
“It would be ideal to be able to count on these people who already have the experience and the knowledge to pass them on to the next generation,” mentioned Jessika Gagné.
Within two years, six of their twelve employees will retire, but the Gagné sisters realize that they are not the only ones to worry about their future.
“We have a competitor who recently came to our parking lot at the end of the workday to offer a job to our employees and hand out business cards. It plays hard, ”said Marie-Kim Gagné.
She added that now is the perfect time to enter the construction pool in Quebec. That of carpenters-joiners has also been open since last Monday in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. It allows a person without a diploma to obtain an apprentice competency certificate.
“The Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) will favor those who are already in the industry and graduates,” explained CCQ communications advisor Marie-Noëlle Deblois. “On the other hand, when the statistics tell us that less than 5% of workers are available for a trade, in a specific region, that’s when we turn to the labor pools.”
The Gagné sisters undertake to guarantee 150 hours of work for three months to an interested person, as required by the CCQ.
“The company has been in existence for 35 years and we would like to do another 60 years and why not bequeath it to our children”, underlined Marie-Kim Gagné.
In addition to slowing down their expansion project, the labor shortage is causing significant delivery delays.
“For a submission, we are already at the end of April and for delivery, it’s fine in July, August. You have to do it in advance,” said Jessika Gagné.