Canada's Building Trade Unions and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) on Friday announced a joint agreement to advance long-term competitiveness of the oil sands industry, with particular focus on developing a stronger skilled trades workforce.
"The oil sands industry is the largest employer of skilled trades workers in Canada," said Dave Collyer, CAPP president. "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."
Robert Blakely, director of Canadian Affairs for the Building and Construction Trades Department, said, "Canada's oil sands industry provides more than 200 million work hours annually for 14 unions with locals from coast-to-coast. 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."
According to the federal government's Construction Sector Council latest forecast, by 2018 construction employment will rise by 180,000 jobs and about 200,000 skilled trades workers will retire. While about 170,000 new entrants are expected, a 200,000-worker gap is forecast. Worker shortages have inflationary implications, including cost increases for construction projects and increased project execution risk, and could impact the industry's ability to attract investment.
"Canada's skilled trades labour unions train 80 percent of construction apprentices, including 40,000 trained annually in concert with the oil sands industry and our employer partners," said Blakely. "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."
Under the CAPP-Building Trades agreement, the two organizations will promote careers in skilled trades and work with governments on initiatives to improve workforce availability.
"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 Collyer.
CAPP and Canada's Building Trades Unions recently launched an advertisement featuring Larry Matychuk from the United Association of Pipefitters and Martyn A. Piper from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. The ad, found at www.oilsandstoday.ca and www.albertacarpenters.com is one of several initiatives to build awareness of employment opportunities and the important role skilled trades people play in Canada's economy.