Over 250 job seekers from Burns Lake and area attended the province’s ‘BC Jobs Start Here’ jobs fair at the Muriel Mould primary school in Burns Lake on Nov. 13.
More than 20 businesses, post-secondary institutions, industry associations, training and health authorities were on hand to describe the work opportunities available in various industries throughout NorthWestern B.C. Pacific Northern Gas, New Gold-Blackwater, Huckleberry Mines Ltd., Devon Energy, Valard Construction, and Canfor are all actively competing for a limited resource in the north, skilled labour.
Gary Alexcee, First Nations Coordinator for Valard LP was in town to describe opportunities available in the transmission line projects throughout Northwestern B.C. “The positions where Valard Construction wishes to fill are for power line apprentices, a four year program taught on the job,” he said.
Valard reports that it will need 60 workers at the height of the Northwest Transmission Line project. The transmission line will run 344 km and connect a new power substation Bob Quinn, B.C. with the existing Skeena substation near Terrace.
“I was given resumes in double figures and will probably receive more electronically as many participants that came by [our booth] took our booklets away,” he said. The job fair had only been running for two hours and Alexcee said that he already had 15 resumes submitted.
Their has been a recent upswing in demand for lumber resources and a shortage of skilled labour and equipment operators in the forestry sector (as reported in Lakes District News on Nov 7, 2012). Despite this, Alexcee has still found a lot of interest from former forestry workers that felt that the industry didn’t hold a strong future for them and so were looking for a change of career.
The B.C. provincial government also used the day to announce a package of funding for the Lakes District campus of the College of New Caledonia (CNC) that will allow the college to deliver programs tailored to the needs of workers displaced by the Babine Forest Products mill explosion last January.
John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes said, “Helping Burns Lake and the region recover from January’s tragedy is a continuing priority for myself and our government. Today we are seeing more programs to help displaced workers acquire skills and launch new careers.”
In total, $480,000 has been earmarked locally. The college will receive up to $300,000 for 20 former millworkers to complete pre-foundation trades programs, $100,000 for eight places in the professional Cook Level 1, Carpentry Level 1 and Welding C. A further $80,000 has also been set aide for five Aboriginal participants to complete foundation training and skills upgraded.
The Lakes District campus of CNC reports that $180,000 of the funding is already in the college’s hands supporting students in welding, cooking and carpentry. “This funding offers our students personal and academic supports such as living allowances, tuition assistance and job search and employment support upon graduation,” said Lynn Synotte, Marketing, Recruitment and Program Linkages director for the Lakes region campus.
The remaining $300,000 will come into play in December of this year. Former millworkers will get training to enter trades like heavy duty mechanic, millwright and construction craft.