B.C.’s textile jobs are in a tailspin, and some workers say the industry is suffering from understaffing.
The B.S. Construction Association says it has recorded its lowest level of employment since the downturn began.
And there are signs of that in the textile industry itself.
“We’re really in a precarious situation, where there’s not enough skilled workers to fill the jobs that we need,” says Michael Mckenzie, president of the B.A.C. Textile Workers Union.
Mckenzie says there are no more skilled workers available in the industry than there are today.
“If we can’t recruit people into the textile trades, we won’t be able to provide our workers with the services they need,” he says.
“We can’t do it.”
Some are worried the trend is set to continue, with no end in sight to the industry’s downturn.
“There are many textile jobs that are still in limbo,” says Ken Lachance, vice president of business development and marketing for BC Textile and Allied Industries.
Lachance says he’s had to ask the industry to find new employees for many of those jobs, and to keep track of those who are laid off.
“I’ve been trying to find some new ones,” he said.
“They’ve said they can’t get new people into that field, so we’re trying to figure out what we need to do to get some of those workers back.”BC Textile says it plans to hire 100 skilled textile workers by the end of the year.
Lakaritha Kulkarni is one of those laid off workers.
Kulkarna was laid off last month and says she feels she was let down.
“When I was laid-off, I didn’t have a choice.
I couldn’t afford to get a new job, so I was left with nothing,” she says.
The BC Textiles Association says most of the laid-offs were in the textiles manufacturing industry.
Kumparni says she was offered a job at a textile factory, but says she never applied.
“It wasn’t a good fit for me,” she said.
“I didn’t feel like I had the right skills, and that was the hardest part for me.”
Kulkarny says her experience is a lesson for others.
“Every time I go to work, I look around me and I see someone who has gone through this experience.
That’s what I want to be saying to everyone who’s been through this.
I want them to know what it feels like.”