How we can learn from a new skilled trades secretariat in Canada

With Bruce Power’s nuclear reactor refurbishment starting in 2020, a skilled trades secretariat is in the works to help ensure there will be enough skilled tradespeople to get the job done.

Bruce County and Bruce Power are partners in the secretariat, which is to ramp up in 2019. A co-ordinator is being recruited now, said Marianne Nero, acting chief administrative officer for Bruce County.

Also, early in 2019, a skilled trades expert panel forum will help establish a framework for a “regional skilled trades advancement strategy”.

Bruce Power and its suppliers will need to attract skilled workers for the 13-year major component replacement project, Nero said.

The secretariat will also focus on requirements of other sectors and businesses in the region, which also rely on the skilled trades,” a news release announced.

The secretariat will be led by a skilled trades oversight committee, consisting of industry representatives, focussed on developing local apprenticeships and training facilities and more.

Nero said the secretariat will provide “one-stop shopping” for people who may be looking to get into a skilled trade.

“We’re going to have the information for them, so where are the needs, where are the organizations that are offering it, which employers are going to be able to support them as a host and provide them training.”

Its duties will include marketing skilled trades to youth, establishing locally delivered skilled trades training as needed, encouraging more apprenticeship placements among local employers and working with unions to help identify the shortages and how to retain tradespeople, she said.

The secretariat will better equip guidance counsellors to advise students what jobs will be in demand locally, where and what skills they’ll need, Nero said.

“As we know, many of our young people are leaving the area both to obtain their education and for work. And once they’ve left the area, it’s very difficult to get them back here,” Nero said.

The centre will operate temporarily in shared offices with the Nuclear Innovation Institute in downtown Port Elgin.

The institute is another partnership between Bruce Power and the county. The institute says it will focus on enhanced education, artificial intelligence and digital technology, health and medical isotopes, environment and global warming, operational excellence, a skilled trades secretariat and a business incubator and accelerator.

Bruce Power’s human resources vice-president, Cathy Sprague, said in the news release that organizations in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties are already working to increase the supply of skilled trades by promoting opportunities to local youth.

“Now is the right time to connect industry leaders with community partners and adopt a one-window approach to advancing our region as a skilled trades and training hub,” she said in the release.

Employers will require a “steady supply for the next 20 years and beyond” of skilled tradespeople, the release said.

Bruce Power’s major component replacement program will begin with Unit 6 in January 2020.

Bruce Power spokesman John Peevers said last month that hiring of 2,000 skilled tradespeople will commence in 2019. They are scheduled to carry out the $2.185-billion project in 46 months.

Another $554 million investment will be spent, one-time spending on tooling for refurbishment of six of its reactors. That work will be staggered, until the final unit is completed in 2033.

Last month, Bruce Power with Bruce County also announced a local education development fund through the Nuclear Innovation Institute to help retain local people. The company pledged $100,000 in 2019 and $400,000 more through 2024 through fundraising and partnerships.

Originally posted

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