REPORTING · 21st June 2014
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond was in Kitimat on Thursday, June 19th. She was meeting with officials and touring the opportunities of the area including Rio Tinto Alcan and the Airport.
“One of my major jobs in government is to make sure we have the skilled workforce that’s necessary for today and moving into the future. Really good opportunity to reconnect with the Mayor [Joanne Monaghan] but I also spent some time in Terrace,” said Bond.
While in Kitimat, she had lunch with Monaghan at Mr. Mikes, toured the Rio Tinto Alcan Project and met, with the Chamber of Commerce in Kitimat and Terrace. She was able to learn more about the various projects coming to Kitimat and proposals for the future.
“Mayor Monaghan and I have been talking about the unbelievable opportunities that exist for a community like Kitimat but also some of the challenges that come with that. You look at issues like housing and how do you deal with the impact of what significant investment would bring,” said Bond.
However, she pointed out that the local Mr. Mikes was a success story for Kitimat. The Franchise started with 50 employees and are now looking at over 70 employees working there. She expressed this kind of success is what drives the economy in British Columbia.
Bond pointed out that Monaghan was once the Mayor of a community in decline and this is no longer the case. “It’s a different part of the province then when I used to visit here. I’ve been a cabinet minister for 13 years and it looks a lot different today than just a few years ago,” said Bond.
Monaghan was happy to chat with the minister in person about Kitimat’s future. “It’s always great to show a minister about how in the last few years we’ve really progressed and how we’ve gone from… I always say… Doom to Boom. It’s been really wonderful to see new families coming into town and new kids coming into town for schools and new jobs and it’s exciting,” said Monaghan.
One of the things which Bond is looking at is the transition of workers from one project and moving them to another one. She wants to keep the workforce engaged and working in areas where they are familiar with. The government has records on when projects are starting and how many workers they are going to need so they can be better prepared for the jobs today.
However, according to Bond, one of the major challenges the government has is encouraging people to move to where the jobs are. She stated Northern BC is a great place to raise a family, housing is still cheaper then downtown Vancouver.
Bond expressed that the government is pleased with the work being done by Kitimat Valley Institute, providing relevant and innovative courses. She stated the industry needs to be a strong partner, the government is prepared to step up and they are going to re-engineer the system.
“What we decided to do was look at data. We decided to do [skills training] in a way that hasn’t been done recently and very detailed. We’re looking at what the labour force looks like for the next 10 years. We can now tell you the top ten job demands, for example, with liquefied natural gas. We’re going to target a percentage of funding, we spend over 7 billion dollars a year on education and training and we’re going to say to trainers and institutions, a certain portion of that money has to go to train the most in demand professions that we’re going to need over the next couple of years,” said Bond.
She stated students will still have the choices as to what training they would like, they are just focusing money on the high demand jobs. “I think it’s going to give kids and students a better opportunity to make choices that is going to get them a great job and a long lasting career,” said Bond.
At the moment, they see trades and technology as being high on the list. Accountants, cooks and project managers are on the list. They are targeting their dollars at this list so students who finish can get a job in BC.
Bond stated there is still work to do. The unemployment rate has dropped from 16% down to about 7% or 8%. However, Kitimat is a different place and it would be responsible for governments to work together respectfully and do what is best for British Columbians.
TOP TEN LNG JOBS
1. Construction Trades Helpers and Labourers
2. Steamfitters and Pipefitters
4. Concrete Finishers
5. Transport Truck Drivers
7. Heavy Equipment Operators
8. Gas Fitters
9. Purchasing Agents and Officers
10. Crane Operators