Report shows northwest not prepared for construction boom coming

A report by the Northwest Transmission Line Labour Market Steering Committee indicates that the region is not ready to reap all the benefits from the line, and that the lack of available skilled workers in the northwest could increase the cost of the projects.

A report by the Northwest Transmission Line Labour Market Steering Committee indicates that the region is not ready to reap all the benefits from the line, and that the lack of available skilled workers in the northwest could increase the cost of the projects.

The committee, made up of government, industry, education, economic development and non-profit stakeholders, says the northwest could find itself competing with areas like Fort MacMurray for skilled labourers and that new people coming into communities in the region could put strain on the social, cultural, educational and health services in the area.

There are thousands of short- and long-term jobs and billions of dollars in projects coming to the Northwest BC region, and the NTL will enable even more opportunities but the information in this report shows that we are not prepared. Many of the jobs coming to our area require specialized skills, and during the economic downturn we had no way of funding training for future opportunities. Now the future is arriving and we need to ensure opportunities are available for our local residents,” said Rick Brouwer of the Skeena Nass-Nass Center for Innovation in Resource Economics, who sat on the committee.

According to the committee report, wchich also includes the Rio Tinto Alcan Modernization, Red Chris Mine and the Kitimat LNG Terminal, demand for labour is projected to be 1,000 jobs in 2011 and between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs fro 2012 to 2014. When including Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and the expansion of port facilities in Prince Rupert, the projection is for demand to peak at 5,000 jobs in 2019. The report also projects a gap of over 1,000 emplyers to fill the jobs by 2012.

The largest number of workers needed will be heavy equipment operators, construction trades helpers, drillers and blasters, contractos and supervisors and carpenters.

It’s not too late if we take action now and increase training and service capacity within our region, most of the upcoming projects will be able to limit their reliance on non-resident workers, creating long-term stability and avoiding social issues,” said Brouwer.

The steering committee report suggests that by focusing targeted training toward local unemployed and under-employed workers, we can get them into the labour market where they can continue to build their skills, and the projects can fill much of their labour needs locally.”

The committee is now working on a human resource strategy to build up capacity