THUNDER BAY – Citing a shortage of up to 65,000 skilled trade workers in Canada, Minister of Employment, Workplace Development and Labour Patty Hajdu says a $166,000 expenditure in the local carpenters’ union is money well spent.
The funds was used to purchase new welding equipment for the Carpenters Local 1669 Training Centre to help carpenters and welders in the Red Seal program stay up-to-date in their skills using the modern equipment found in the field.
Equipment bough includes a pair of welding simulators, four duel weld stations, four laptops as well as other materials.
Hajdu said modernization is important.
“When they get out onto the job site, they need to have the most current skill set,” she said, after making the announcement at the union headquarters at Innova Park.
“It also helps them get better jobs more quickly. But it’s also important that we have more tradespeople trained in general because we have a skilled trades shortage across this country of about 65,000 and these are good, middle class jobs that have benefits, they have pensions and they provide safe workplaces.”
The minister was joined by a fellow member of cabinet, Defence Minister Harjit Saijan, who was in the city to speak with local military reserve members.
Saijan said his father was a skilled trades worker and stressed the importance of having enough people capable of handling the work.
“If you look at what we’ve got in Canada, we need to be able to repair a deck, you have to be able to build a house and you have to be able to do plumbing. All these skills are extremely important,” Saijan said.
“This is about making sure we have a high quality of life and we need to have the workforce that gives us that quality of life. And these are high-paying jobs and more importantly, these are the type of jobs that allow the middle class to grow.”
Evan Reid, president of Local 1669, said the new equipment was badly needed and should help address some of the shortages in skilled trades workers faced by the Canadian economy – though not necessarily a huge issue in Thunder Bay.
“I know in other parts of the province there are very major shortfalls on manpower. Locally here, at times we do see major shortfalls – the large-scale infrastructure projects just drain the manpower out of the region very quickly,” Reid said.
“But we do have a lot of interest from individuals – young people, men and women.”