Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

BC: Shortage of skilled workers to continue

More articles softening up the population for the massive expansion of the Temporary foreign worker programs, being brought in by the tag team of THe SPP and TILMA, and done in time to build Olympic and Tar Sands infrastructure... Yet, due to the size of the proposed Gigaproject as well as the 2010 Games this is actually true-- the question not being asked is are we prepared to allow projects with such dire prospects?


Shortage of skilled workers to continue
Citizen staff
Friday, 06 June 2008

A tightening labour force -- where skilled workers are in high demand -- is expected to be a continuing issue in Western Canada over the next three decades as a result of an aging population, a declining birth rate and a continuing robust economy driven by growing demand in Asia, says demographer Andrew Ramlo.
Even if immigration is forecast to increase, Canada's unemployment level is expected to remain in the six-per-cent level over the next three decades, Ramlo told a luncheon audience at the second day of the 2008 Forest Expo and Resources Trade show.
That means northern B.C. will continue to have to compete for skilled workers, particularly as its resources will be in demand from a reorientation in the traditional flow of trade between Europe and North America toward Asia and North America. While that trade flow once favoured eastern Canada, increasingly it will favour B.C. and its ports.
Ramlo noted that traffic in B.C. ports is expected to increase 300 per cent by 2020.
The provincial and federal government have recognized this and have started to put money into port and transportation development, including in northern B.C.
An $170-million container-handling facility was completed last year, with contributions from the province and Ottawa, and CN has also completed a $20-million container-handling depot at Prince George. A $36-million Prince George Airport runway expansion is also underway.
Ramlo, the director of the Vancouver-based Urban Futures Institute, rolled out numbers that showed that Canada's population is expected to grow slowly and age significantly, which means there are typically fewer young people entering the work force.
There is also forecast continuing population growth in China and India, where even small gains in productivity per person nets huge increases in the overall value of good and services produced because of those countries huge existing populations.
For example, if China's productivity, which is low compared to the U.S. and Canada, increased slightly to Thailand's level, it would increase the value of good and services produced in the country by $3.6 trillion.
Even in the U.S. the population is expected to grow about 30 million people every 10 years to about 390 million by 2037. That indicates that the current forestry downturn in the U.S. is less of an issue than the pine beetle epidemic, which will reduce the timber supply, noted Ramlo.
It means that governments and industry must get ready to manage the issue because "ready or not, here it comes," he said.
In an interview, Ramlo said this region can't depend on a westward shift of population, which has already largely happened. It's not possible to drain the Maritimes indefinitely, and at some point aging Maritimers will return, he noted.
It's already happening in Saskatchewan, where people are returning from Alberta, in part because the economy there has seen an uptick but also because of less expensive housing, said Ramlo.
Immigration can help, but one problem is that immigrants tend to be attracted to big urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver.
The continuing tightened labour market will also likely mean that aging workers will stay on and work longer, or work part time, but that will not offset the other drains, observed Ramlo.
Rick Publicover, the executive director of the Central Interior Logging Association, said they are
well aware there will be continued competition for workers.
The four logging associations in the province have already jointed to come up with strategies. They hope to help set up a training module for equipment operators recognized by the province's training authority, which will make it easier to attract new entrants.
Publicover said they are also working with First Nations, which, uniquely, have a growing and young population. A significant positive factor about aboriginal people is they already live in rural communities and are more likely to remain, noted Publicover.
They are also exploring options to attract non-traditional workers to the sector, including women.
The association -- which represents logging contractors and large trucking firms -- is also encouraging its members to diversify into road building, mining and oil and gas. It will make the firms more stable financially and provide a more certain work environment, again making them more attractive as an employer, said Publicover
While it's tough to be attractive during this forestry downturn, companies are aware they must be looking to the future, he said.


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