Völundur Thorbjörnsson, an Icelandic ex-pat and project development manager of Scandia Housing in Perth, Canada, has constructed 26 buildings in Iceland since December 2005 with the help of Canadian workers.
According to Embassy, Canada’s Foreign Policy Newsweekly, Thorbjörnsson’s construction projects in Iceland are possible because of the country’s booming economy. “The unemployment rate is next to none and it’s hard to recruit local labor,” he explained.
To persuade Canadian workers to travel to Iceland Thorbjörnsson pays all travel expenses and accommodation, in addition to an above-average salary. Over 100 people from all over Canada have applied for jobs at his company, he said.
Scandia Housing also organizes recreational trips and sightseeing tours around Iceland for its employees and hosts several social events. But, while in Iceland, construction workers have to work hard. They are required to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week to complete a building in two to three weeks.
The Canadian workers have to work in all kinds of weather, which can be quite harsh in Iceland sometimes. “The wind was unbelievable,” said Rob McDiarmid, who has worked in the construction business in Canada for 15 years and took part in Thorbjörnsson’s first project in Iceland in December 2005.
Thorbjörnsson’s employees also have to adapt to Icelandic building codes, which are different from Canadian codes. Most houses in Iceland are built out of concrete, whereas in Canada, wood is the preferred building material.