With a growing need for skilled trades workers in Canadian oil sands projects, a new partnership between trade unions and petroleum companies promises to help ensure worker demand is met.
A recent forecast by the federal government’s Construction Sector Council suggests that, by 2018, 180,000 more skilled trades workers will be required in addition to the 200,000 expected to retire. With 170,000 new hires expected, that would still leave a gap of over 200,000 workers.
The agreement between the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and building trade unions calls for increased promotion of careers in skilled trades and a vow to work with the federal government to ensure trained workers have strong access to the workforce.
“We need to work jointly to attract more Canadians into the skilled trades, provide more classroom and employment-based training opportunities, improve incentives to move within Canada for work, and as needed, increase both permanent and temporary immigration. More skilled people who are mobile, certified and ready to work is a win-win,” said CAPP president Dave Collyer.
The agreement promises to help both sides. Employees have both assurances and incentives leading them to careers in the skilled trades while the companies have the workforce they need and, with effects of worker shortages minimized, will face diminished inflationary pressures. CAPP companies will also have assurances that they will be able to deliver projects as planned.
“The oil sands industry is working closely with the Building Trades on initiatives to improve labour availability, including workforce mobility skilled trades training and apprenticeship opportunities, and immigration. Ensuring Canada has a strong skilled trades workforce benefits all Canadians.”
Collyer added that the oil sands drives the employment sector in terms of skilled trades, serving as the single largest employer of skilled trades workers in Canada.
“Canada’s oil sands industry provides more than 200 million work hours annually for 14 unions with locals from coast-to-coast,” said Building and Construction Trades Department director of Canadian affairs Robert Blakely. “Ongoing responsible oil sands development is our goal, working with the industry to ensure Canada has the skilled people needed to grow our economy over the next several decades.”
Blakely noted that the nation’s skilled trades unions are responsible for training some 80 per cent of all construction apprentices. The partnership will help them meet that goal.
“With cooperation between oil sands companies and unions, oil sands will be Canada’s skilled trades training super-highway, deliver good paying jobs, the next generation of skilled trades people, and grow our economy,” he said.
By Mark Schafer