Canadian Manufacturing

Report suggests 15 ways to attract LNG workforce to B.C.

Calls for a quarter of workforce in industry to be apprentices; use of temporary foreign workers

VICTORIA—The British Columbia government has released a road map designed to attract and train the tens of thousands of workers that would be needed if the province realizes its dream of a booming liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

Premier Christy Clark said her government plans to adopt all 15 recommendations contained in a report that was prepared by a working group with representatives from the government, LNG industry players, unions and First Nations.

The report includes recommendations on training, marketing and developing best practices to help find workers to fill LNG jobs.

Clark said the plan will ensure B.C. has enough skilled workers for what she has often described as a potential trillion-dollar industry that could create as many as 100,000 jobs.

“I can tell you, I am, really, just delighted about the level of co-operation that we’ve seen,” she said.

“It is absolute proof that when a group of people who sometimes have disagreements can come together around one overarching goal and are highly motivated to reach it that we can find a way to get there. We are going to get there.”

Among the recommendations, workers should be trained immediately, the parties should host career fairs, and the provincial and federal governments should co-ordinate training to maximize its effectiveness.

A quarter of the workers should be apprentices, and the parties should focus on workers who are finishing construction or other projects across the province, the report adds.

The report also recommends the use of temporary foreign workers, as long as the projects are employing as many British Columbians and Canadians as possible.

Clark said the recommendations will be reflected in a 10-year, skills-training plan that she and Jobs Minister Shirley Bond will be releasing soon.

“We all agreed to two things,” said Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. “One is that one of the great legacies of this project is not just building pipelines and plants—it’s actually building British Columbia.”

Sinclair said that if the parties can meet the goal of hiring apprentices for 25 per cent of the industry’s labour force, then hundreds, if not thousands, of people could end up with qualifications that could give them work for life.

“On the other side is we realize we don’t have enough apprentices right now in British Columbia, and if we don’t get the apprentices going today then we’re not going to have the people for tomorrow when we have to build this,” he added.

The report was written following a September 2013 meeting between Clark and organized labour in which she outlined the province’s vision for the industry.

The parties then developed a terms of reference, also forming what became known as the Premier’s LNG Working Group.

Between November 2013 and March 2014, the government, labour, industry and First Nations met nine times before releasing their official report.

Taylor Cross, deputy chief councillor of the Haisla Nation, located on B.C.’s north coast, said everybody in his community who wants to work is currently working, but the band’s leadership is focused on apprenticeships.

“Yes, we’re working on apprenticeships,” he said. “Us, as Haisla Nation council, we’re talking to people … trying to get apprenticeships going, making it easier for our people to get into apprenticeships for long careers in the trades.”

David Keane, vice-president, policy and corporate affairs for BG Canada, a company proposing an LNG export terminal near Prince Rupert, B.C., said the province is a very attractive place to invest.

He said the province has a “huge” resource base, and there is enthusiastic support for the LNG industry from the provincial and federal governments.

“We’re still on plan for final investment decision late 2016,” he said. “We’re taking quite a deliberate approach in terms of how we’re going to deal with First Nations and communities.”

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