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NEWS RELEASE · 24th August 2011
A shortage of skilled workers and ways to train workers may drive up costs for construction projects being planned in the Northwest, and limit opportunities for local residents. So says a report summarizing labour market information gathered to date by the Northwest Transmission Line (NTL) Labour Market Project Steering Committee.

The committee, comprised of a wide range of stakeholders from government, industry, education, economic development, and non-profits, was formed by BC Hydro as part of the NTL Labour Market Partnerships Project, designed to capture the benefits of the NTL for Northwest BC.

Rick Brouwer, Executive Director for the Skeena-Nass Center for Innovation in Resource Economics (SNCIRE), is a member of the committee and says the report confirms there are labour and training issues in the region that need to be addressed quickly.

“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”, says Brouwer, “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 – people who are committed to living in Northwest BC regardless of the state of the global economy.”

The report says importing skilled workers from outside the region will drive up project costs due to employee turnover, search costs, and competition with other areas like Ft. McMurray. The report also suggests that there will also be problems for communities due to increased demand on community social, cultural, administrative, education, and health services that are resourced only for a core population.

”It’s not too late,” says Brouwer, “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. 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 NTL committee is now working on a human resource strategy for training capacity. “The social service issues are outside the scope of the steering committee,” notes Brouwer, “and SNCIRE is working with other regional leaders to find solutions to the urgent matter of overall regional stability. With quick action and provincial government support we can create a sustainable situation that benefits the entire Northwest.”

About the North West Transmission Line Project Steering Committee

The North West Transmission Line Labour Market Partnerships Project, funded by the Province’s Labour Market Partnerships Program, has been established in conjunction with the extension of BC Hydro’s North West Transmission Line (NTL) into the northwest of the province. This important power infrastructure will enable significant investment in mining, gas and renewable power.

As a part of the strategy to capture the benefits of the NTL, BC Hydro initiated the NTL Labour Market Partnerships Project in the fall of 2010. The Steering Committee for the NTL Labour Market Project has broad representation and diverse skill sets drawn from a range of stakeholders throughout the region.

Steering Committee Members:

Federico Velasquez, AltaGas
Tim Jennings, BC Hydro
Gail Murray, BC Hydro
Dave Bazowski, BC Mining Association - HR Task Force
Loch McJannett, Clean Energy BC
Byng Giraud, Imperial Metals
Gary McDermott, Industry Training Authority
Jim Greenwell, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Rob McPhee, McPhee Economic Consulting (First Nations Representative)
Oswald Diaz, Ministry of Energy
Glenn Farenholtz, Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation
Joan Westran, Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation
Brodie Guy, Northern Development Initiative Trust
Lorrie Gowen, Northwest Community College
Larry Richardson, Resource Training Organization
Rick Brouwer, SNCIRE (Community Representative)
Eulala Mills, LevelHeaded Thinking (NTL LMP Chair)
Let the competitions begin ! (Or pucker up, and like it.
Comment by Janice P. Robinson on 3rd September 2011

I do not know the answer(s), but:

- when it comes to First Nations hiring practices, ethics were thrown under the bus a long time ago.
Corporations who have successfully bought their way onto "Kitsumkalum territory," are hard-pressed to hire non-Kitsumkalum workers when hiring their quota of Natives......qualifications are tertiary concerns. Likewise on "Lax Kw'laams territory," etc.

I do not know how non-Native employees are chosen for these mega-projects.....
Do they all have to be from the closest town to the project? Do they have to have a solid history of kissing the right arses? Or what?
Lack of action
Comment by Dave on 26th August 2011
For many years now this issue has been presented to various Ministers at UBCM meetings. Points being made were, once again, too many permanent residents of the north west will be left sitting on the outside watching or have only pick and shovel work while "outsiders" reap the benefits of NW resources.

First Nations have been ringing the same bell for years.

Another point made to them was that other than airlines and caterers no one here gains from out of province workers. They fly into a camp, earn their money and return home. They do not live, invest or shop in the area or the province.

An investment in the proper education would be returned to the taxpayers of this province many times over.
As usual these things have fallen on deaf ears - lip service only!
Thx Tom!
Comment by MaggieJo on 24th August 2011
Thanks Tom for offering your time. That is very kind of you.

I'll give you a call next week when you're available in the office:)


comment to Magie
Comment by Tom on 24th August 2011
Hi Magie, there are ways around the point you made, and you are correct, that said, there are ways to work within the existing programs etc, and still meet your needs, Call me at the BCCA office next week , Thanks, Tom Harwood,
Trades Employment Specialist 250-631-6726
Comment by MaggieJo on 24th August 2011
It's a shame the ITA doesn't host exams geared more towards the entry-level youth in the Trades Programs. 'Seems like most of the young NWCC students can never pass the ITA trades exams! Not sure what's up with 'dat.

I suppose we can always bring people from other Provinces to work in our Communities instead, heh?