Group works to lure workers home

A Terrace B.C. committee is joining forces with the province to bring workers who have left the province to make a living back home.

EVEN AS one Alberta energy company has its eyes on northwestern workers, a local committee is working on a plan to draw former northwesterners back home.

The committee, named the Northwest Labour Market Partnership and under the auspices of the Skeena-Nass Centre for Resource Economics, is part of a $750,000 provincial plan to match up job seekers with companies needing labour.

Research estimates indicate companies looking to set up shop in the region will require anywhere from 4,000 to 12,000 workers within a decade.

The committee’s first emphasis is on employing as many local people as possible on the projects.

And that includes attracting people who left the region when the woods processing industry here collapsed in the late 1990s.

Don Ramsay, a former transportation ministry manager hired by SNCIRE to meet the goal of employing local people, says the committee has its eyes on places like Fort McMurray, Alberta, as well as Fort St. John.

“We’re not quite there yet but it will be part of our overall strategy,” he said of a worker attraction campaign.

Ramsay said he, like a lot of people in the area, have heard stories of people from here who moved away but would come home for family and other reasons if there was work to be had.

“Bear in mind, though, that a lot of the projects we’re hearing about won’t have start dates until 2014 or 2015,” Ramsay continued.

One immediate focus for Ramsay is organizing a spring 2013 conference of companies and training institutions to begin connections ensuring that the latter can provide the kinds of workers needed by the former.