Four in 10 future engineers in B.C. will be new immigrants: report

Half of new engineering inspectors and regulatory officers will be recruited from outside of Canada, according to the report.

Plus, BC Ferries lures passengers to a new pricing system with lower fares and TransCanada shifts course to solicit First Nations consent

A shortage of engineers
Over the next decade, four in 10 future engineering jobs in B.C. will be filled by new immigrants, according to a labour market report by the Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table (APGST). Thanks to a tight national labour market, a slate of new resource and infrastructure projects and boomer retirements, B.C.’s engineering profession will be heavily dependent on international migration. A further one in 10 future workers will relocate to B.C. from elsewhere in Canada.

“Southeast and Northern B.C. will experience the greatest labour tightness and shortages in the province due to small populations and billions of dollars in anticipated resource projects,” states the summary of the survey released by the APGST, a federal-backed labour market monitor, and a handful of other professional organizations. Those occupations include architectural technologists; aircraft technicians; chemical, civil, electric, mechanical, software, mining engineers; geologists; industrial designers; and land surveyors—required for projects like the port’s expansion at Roberts Bank, the future YVR expansion, the Site C dam, the Massey Tunnel replacement,  copper/gold mines at Iskut and Stewart, and several liquefied natural gas projects in the Northwest (LNG). And even without LNG, the demand for engineers will still vastly outstrip supply.

“The Industry’s challenge will be meeting the growing B.C. demand for highly trained professionals with a very tight supply that isn’t bound by geography,” said Janet Sinclair, chief operating officer of APEGBC, in a statement. And that opens the door for more in-migration and more temporary workers. “As a result, trends in labour supply management are shifting away from today’s boots-on-the-ground model to accommodate the global nature of these professions,” said Sinclair. But that exposes employers to forces they would rather not have to deal with. The report states: “This high reliance on immigration to meet new supply needs creates risk for employers, as the levers that control the flow of immigration are not in their control.”

Ferry fares
BC Ferries is testing the waters to see if its new fare-pricing system will float with users, by offering half-price vehicle fares on almost all routes from mid-November to mid-December. The promotion will cut fares from Vancouver to Victoria  from $56 to $28 per vehicle and from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert from $260 to $129. The promotion will “gauge our customers’ response to the concept of saving while travelling on off-peak sailings,” said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ president and CEO, in a release. The Crown corporation, of course, has an ulterior motive: selling the public on a new pricing system, which will increase on high-demand long weekends and fall in the shoulder season, and on less-popular sailings (who wants to be at Horseshoe Bay at 6 a.m.?).  And doing so, the corporation will shift from flat, highway-like tolls to dynamic pricing, the model used by airlines like airlines. You can find out more about the new fares here.

Pipeline politics
TransCanada is proposing a change of course for a 56-kilometre stretch of its proposed natural gas pipeline as it seeks to secure consent of local First Nations for its $4.7 billion pipeline project (via Vancouver Sun). The company will apply next month to reroute the proposed pipeline around the Morice River, a tributary of the Bulkey and source of salmon. While TransCanada has attained support from a handful of Wet’suwet’en clans, through whose territory the pipeline will cross, the company has faced stiff opposition from one clan, the Unist’ot’en, who have manned a blockade at the the Morice River crossing for the last five years. Tensions simmered over the summer when the company surveyors were rebuffed by local activists, igniting fears that the RCMP would intervene