British Columbia’s need for skilled workers is good news for Chilliwack. But it will take more than encouragement by industry to meet the expected demand.
It will take money.
This week the B.C. Natural Gas Workforce Strategy Committee released a report saying B.C.’s burgeoning liquified natural gas industry would generate 75,000 permanent jobs by 2021, in addition to the 60,000 jobs created during the construction process.
The challenge will be finding enough skilled talent to fill those positions.
That’s where Chilliwack comes in.
Industry will to draw workers from across Canada and even overseas to meet the expected demand.
However, Chilliwack – home to the University of the Fraser Valley’s Trades and Technology Centre – will play a key role in helping fill that gap.
The state-of-the-art facility provides training in a number of the disciplines that will be essential during the construction phase and after the LNG export facilities are built on B.C.’s West Coast.
But key to that success will be continued funding and support from pubic and private sectors.
True, the province is currently running a deficit of more than $1.1 billion. However, it also stands to gain significant tax revenue from the LNG projects in the years to come. Investing some of that expected money in education infrastructure now will ensure British Columbians have the skills necessary to participate in this opportunity.
But the responsibility should not rest with the province alone. Private industry will also benefit from expansion of LNG exports. It’s important that the private sector play a role in the education of the workforce they will be counting on, either by opening sufficient apprentice opportunities, or direct funding of additional seats at trades and technology centres like UFV’s.
The future of LNG exports in B.C. is a promising one. However, targeted investments in education now will help ensure benefits from this development are kept close to home.