Two northern B.C. colleges have been awarded $250,000 each, to support programs to train students in a number of skilled trades that the resource and pipeline sector will need in the coming years.
The donations are being provided through the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission and Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline projects to the Northwest Community College (NWCC) and the College of New Caledonia (CNC).
Funding was provided for the colleges’ trades and workforce training departments, which will manage bursaries in the skilled trades and safety programs, and pay for the NWCC Class 5 driver training program.
TransCanada also donated a brand new Toyota Corolla for the driver’s training program.
Developing a large pool of skilled labour is an important goal for natural gas pipeline projects.
“With our training programs, Aboriginal and other local youth have the opportunity to broaden their choices to participate in the growing economy, right here in northern British Columbia,” says John Dunn, vice-president, Prince Rupert Gas Transmission.
Aboriginal peoples comprise roughly 30 per cent of the region’s population, the highest among all B.C. college regions and make up roughly 40 per cent of NWCC’s student body.
“This donation will support the implementation of a graduated driver’s licence training program,” said Northwest Community College president Ken Burt. “Students without a driver’s licence have a barrier to accessing post-secondary education but also to accessing employment. If you think about driving on job sites and working equipment, a driver’s licence is critical for employment.”
Henry Reiser, CNC president, believes that the donation is a great benefit to those looking to get into the trades within the next couple of years. “This agreement will help make education and skills training more available to remote and low-income learners. We are thrilled to have TransCanada on board and supporting our students. It is through strategic partnerships like this one that we are able to offer relevant and valuable programming to our students and to our communities.”
TransCanada’s Pathway to Pipeline Readiness program in B.C. is working to address skilled labour shortages by providing funding to post-secondary institutions to train students in the skills the projects will need.
Consider that B.C.’s natural gas industry today employs some 13,000 people.
If government projections are accurate, and five LNG projects are built over the next nine years, Grant Thornton International estimated the need for 39,400 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs each year. Over the nine years, some 102,500 FTEs for construction jobs and more than 250,000 spin-off jobs will be created. Some 75,000 FTEs will be required to operate the five projects each year.
The demand for labour on LNG construction is expected to peak in 2017. The largest number of workers will be needed in the areas of general construction helpers and labourers, steamfitters, pipefitters and welders.