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Report forecasts strong demand for mine workers in northern B.C.


Last updated 2/26/2012 at Noon

Results of a recent study of the projected labor force requirements of resource industries such as mining in northern British Columbia reinforces the need for organizations like British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association to complete their mission.

The study was commissioned by the Northern BC Resource Sector Human Resources Committee in the summer of 2011. R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. was contracted to forecast work force requirements for the northern region's resource industries, including mining, through 2020.

"Growth in the mining and oil and gas industries accompanied by a recovery in the forest industry are likely to be strong economic drivers across northern BC," the report said. "Construction related to infrastructure projects, mines, pipelines, and power projects also will provide much-needed employment within the region. The resource sector requires an increasingly highly skilled work force to build, maintain, and operate its infrastructure. The current work force is aging and may not have the necessary skills and education required to meet the employment demands of the next decade," the consultants concluded.

In December, the committee released, "Northern B.C. Resource Sector Final Labour Market Demand Report II," a report that summarizes the results of Malatest's demand-side analysis, which focused on highlighting potential skills shortages in high-demand occupations, many of which may cross industry lines within the resource sector.

The committee also said the report will be followed by a supply-side analysis of the resource sector through 2020 and identification of future occupational gaps and opportunities.

The resource sector is expected to experience a period of significant expansion over the next 10 years, driven largely by new investment in mining and oil & gas, and supported by a number of major projects in the energy, pipeline and infrastructure development sectors.

Projected employment encompasses both new jobs driven by economic and industrial growth (i.e., capital investment and expansion), and replacement demand due to attrition. A total of 4,760 new jobs are projected for the Northern BC Resource Sector, in addition to 8,468 job openings due to attrition.

A total of 23,177 new jobs (as measured in person years of employment) are projected in support activities for mining and oil & gas in northern BC by 2020. Overall employment is projected to increase by 5,346 workers over the next 10 years, well over double current levels. Factoring in replacement jobs owing to attrition, a total of 7,146 job openings are projected for this sub-industry over the next decade.

New occupational employment in support activities for mining and oil & gas is projected to more than double (116 percent) over the 2020 horizon, including significant increases across most occupations. Demand for workers in occupations unique to primary processing will experience the largest increase, followed by trades, transport and equipment workers.

Operational mine employment is projected to increase by 774 jobs over the 2020 horizon in northern BC, in addition to 1,523 job vacancies due to attrition. Trades transport and equipment occupations and those unique to primary industry face the highest demand for new workers through 2020.

The majority of the new operational mining jobs will be located in the North Coast development region, including a projected 633 (86 percent) new jobs by 2020. Operational mining employment will remain relatively flat in the other three northern regions over the next decade

Employment projections for the four northern development regions show that employment demand in the construction industry will almost triple by 2012 and then begin to moderate starting in 2015, at which time the majority of planned installations are scheduled for completion. By 2020 construction industry employment is projected to decline to 4,757 workers, or about 15 percent above baseline estimates. This analysis highlights the cyclical challenge of meeting the short- and long-term employment requirements of the construction industry.

The report also said that having in place a sustainable supply of skilled and semi-skilled labor to meet anticipated demand is essential to the short- and long-term success of each project.


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