With the expansion plans of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, the modernization of Rio Tinto Alcan, the development of LNG export and the electrification of Highway 37, Industry Training Authority CEO Kevin Evans says more needs to be done to ensure the skilled workers need for those projects are available.
“The region is projected to have a 2.9 per cent increase in jobs in the next decade, which is the largest in the province…We’ll be ready, but are we ready now? The
region will face shortages,” he said.
“Right now there are 40,000 people employed in the Nechako – North Coast region, at one point it was 47,000 so it has dropped. Of those 40,000 about 10 per cent are in the trades. The projection is that by 2020 there will be 46,000 people employed and about 6,300 of those will be trades positions….If you add up the jobs created by retirement and new economic opportunities, there is a shortage of about 3,620 workers.”
The three biggest areas of growth for the trades are projected to be machiner and transportation mechanics, carpenters and heavy equipment operator. While Evans says people will move to the region and companies wil bring people in, he says it is key that the region develop capacity to allow locals and the young people of the area to benefit from the growth.
“For us to be ready it’s not a question of the capacity at Northwest Community College or the ability of the government to get involved. We need employers to make apprenticeships happen. If companies want to be part of the economic opportunities in the region, they need to invest and take part in training for workers. The days of poaching workers from the guy next door who did the training are over, it’s no longer a valid strategy for recruitment,” he said, adding that there will be competition for skilled workers from not just the different parts of the province but from the different parts of the country.
“It’s going to be very much a job seeker’s marktet. When you offer an apprenticeship, you’re saying to someone ‘we’re willing to invest in you if you’re willing to invest with us’.”