Trades to play major role in filling labour gap

By Chad Klassen
November 13, 2015 - 11:18am Updated: December 1, 2015 - 10:01pm

Trade students are working on dummy power lines at Thompson Rivers University, getting the training required to become a power-line technician. 

The two-year program is run by local company Allteck, and many of the students are already working in industry. 

"The students are all Level 2 Apprentices in the power-line trade, and all of them work for a company either here in British Columbia and a couple of them are here from Alberta," says TRU Dean of Trades Lindsay Langill.

They are among the some 5,000 trade workers needed in the Thompson-Cariboo region in the next decade. Many are working in northern B.C. and Alberta, but the trade jobs are out there. 

"Pipe-fitters, steam-fitters, welders, industrial electricians, and power-line techs. Those are some of the key trades, but not taking away from the other trades that will be needed, like carpenters and iron workers and rebar people," says Langill.

The labour market study says 35,000 workers are needed in the region by 2025 --- and many of those needs are in trades.

That's also assuming projects like Ajax and the Trans Mountain pipeline don't go through. 

"The study looks at the major projects in a completely separate section and it says that if the major projects that are currently on the major project inventory for the region do go ahead, by 2025 we will need an additional 29,000 workers," says Executive Director of Venture Kamloops Jim Anderson.

In any one year, TRU has up to 1,800 students working towards filling that labour void. In the next two years, the university is planning to expand, building a new trades facility.

"We're a university that offers trades and focuses on it, so by building the Industrial Training and Technology Centre, we'll be able to combine a huge amount of trades with some science, including an engineering program," says TRU Vice-President of Advancement Christopher Seguin. 

The university has a two-year transfer program that lands engineering students at UVic. But one of the recommendations in the study is to develop a regional post-secondary program.

"It's a tough designation to get. There aren't as many around as there are of other professions," says Anderson. "It's an indication of the demand out there. There are projects that require engineering expertise."

TRU seems to be the perfect fit for an engineering school, which could play a huge role in helping the labour needs in the regions.

World Aids Day observed in Kamloops