IT’S PROBABLY unrealistic to expect that the northwest will be able to drive the bus that is the supply of skilled labour needed as major economic projects take hold in the region.
And it may be unrealistic, given the projected number of positions to be filled when balanced against the demographics of the region, that the northwest may have a seat right at the front of the bus.
But there needs to be a very clear, very precise and very defined principle established that heaven and earth will be moved to first ensure that locals will have every opportunity to be trained to fill the jobs to prevent the northwest from being run over as the bus leaves the depot.
As it is, the provincial government has just been told by its immigration task force that more immigration is needed to fill labour and skills shortage. Fine and dandy for other parts of the province, perhaps, but in a region with a perennial unemployment rate of more than 10 per cent, that report somehow doesn’t stack up.
Recent infusions of provincial money for skills training at Northwest Community College will help as will federal aid in buying heavy duty equipment training simulators.
But this is also a region in which prospective workers, for a variety of reasons, don’t even have a driver’s licence.
Something very good can happen here or something very bad. We need to ensure it’s the former.