Shortage of tradespeople in Fort McMurray

The Alberta government’s annual report on post-secondary education notes an overall drop in enrollment of 35% over five years in work-based learning programs.

The document nevertheless indicates an increase in registration last year, but without specifying which trades or programs are the most affected. The total number of enrollments for work-based learning programs is also unknown.

The labor shortage is being noted particularly in the oil sands regions, as it is already causing problems, according to Fort McMurray Construction Association President Keith Plowman.

He specifies that the situation will not improve. It’s going to be a problem in the next five to 10 yearshe assures.

This phenomenon is caused in part by a lower number of new employees than retirements, estimates Mr. Plowman.

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum testifies to the same situation nationally. According to the organization, Canada needs 256,000 new apprentices within five years to meet its labor needs, despite a drop in the number of apprenticeship registrations of 27% in 2020.

Keith Plowman would however like to see more young people take an interest in the manual professions.

This is a real good earning opportunity for peoplehe said. If you train for a trade now, you will be in high demand five years from now.

Attract workers

Many construction associations have set up companionship incentive programs to address this problem, Plowman says.

For example, Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism is working to attract more workers to the area.

Its president and CEO, Kevin Wieidlich, chose to participate in Alberta’s program to recruit foreign nationals to work and settle in a rural community.

Kevin Weidlich wants this project to come to fruition this fall. The need for workers in our region is very very high and is holding back some of our businesses from undertaking new projects.

Employers are also doubling their creativity to attract workers in the region. The director of human resources for the McKay Métis Group, Jennifer Irvine, has increased base salaries for employees, in addition to providing them with housing options. She even considers giving a retention bonus to new recruits.

the McKay Métis Group also pays its employees to go to school and train to encourage them to stay with the company. It’s an employee market, basically they’re the ones interviewing you [pour un emploi].

With information from Jamie Malbeuf

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