To address labour market challenges in the solid wood sector, Premier Christy Clark and forestry sector leaders today committed to working together to identify and address the industry's skilled workforce needs and more on-the-job training for British Columbians.
"British Columbians should be first in line for B.C. jobs, both today and in the future," said Premier Clark. "That's why we're committed to building a skilled workforce throughout the province - so important partnerships like this one will help ensure training programs reflect and meet industry demand."
In 2011-12, a Solid Wood HR Committee, developed through the Resource Training Organization, produced a labour market needs case study that suggested that over the next five years, employers in the solid wood sector can expect to hire close to 1,300 new workers each year to meet employment demand. Skilled trades are expected to be the most challenging gaps to fill. Government invested $170,500 through the Canada-B.C. Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) to support the project. A skilled trade demand projection report by occupation, company and region over the coming five years was also completed. The new partnership supports the work that has previously been done to identify needs within the sector and the implementation of priority recommendations.
"With nearly one million job openings expected in B.C. by 2020, government is committed to working with industry leaders to ensure that British Columbians are ready for the many opportunities coming our way," said Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell. "This partnership, once finalized, will help create an action plan for the solid wood sector that will help address labour shortages through appropriate training programs and other supports."
Government and industry are committed to finalizing a new provincewide labour market partnership for the solid wood sector by June 2013. To support this partnership, government is also providing $5,000 for a solid wood sector Labour Market Partnerships agreement with the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) to develop a terms of reference on how best to implement the key recommendations from the recent Solid Wood HR Committee project.
"Forestry, a cyclical industry, is again in an upswing. Lumber prices are at their highest levels in over seven years," said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson. "It's important we have the skilled workforce to meet the increase in demand."
COFI works with governments, communities, organizations, and individuals to ensure that forest policies in B.C. support the forestry sector and those who are dependent on the sector for business income or family supporting jobs. COFI works within the national and international Canada Wood partnership to improve access to markets in B.C. and overseas, including Japan, China and Korea.
"Having a skilled workforce engaged in the processes behind our diverse range of products provides our industry with a competitive advantage," said Nick Arkle, chair of COFI. "This commitment from government to work together on programs to maintain and enhance the skills of workers will be central to not only taking advantage of rebounding markets but in taking advantage of new product opportunities."
In 2012-13, the $280-million LMDA budget is being used to provide employment assistance services, job-creation partnerships, labour market partnerships, self-employment, skills development and targeted wage subsidies programs. Under the BC Jobs Plan and BC Skills and Training Plan, government is actively working to ensure that British Columbians have the skills they need to be first in line for jobs in the province through an investment of $75 million for new capital and equipment to complement $500 million in annual investments in employment and skills training programs.
Office of the Premier
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour