By: Korie Marshall

Kinder Morgan and Thompson Rivers University teamed up for an information session on jobs and training on Nov. 18th in Valemount, and continued to other communities along the Trans Mountain pipeline route.

About 50 people attended a short presentation at the Best Western, with others coming and going during the open house format event. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project team brought information on the types of jobs needed in the pipeline industry, as well as other energy industries. The province says 50,000 workers will be needed in the next 10 years to keep up with the workforce demand on existing projects. That is not including any of the currently proposed projects like the Trans Mountain expansion, the Northern Gateway pipeline, or the many proposed LNG lines in northern BC and Alberta, says Kate Stebbings, manager of Stakeholder Engagement for the BC interior for Kinder Morgan.

Rob Scott, Operations Liason for the Trans Mountain project and 34-year employee with Kinder Morgan, reminded residents that Kinder Morgan won’t be in charge of hiring if the expansion is approved, but will have minimum percentages for hiring First Nations and local employees and sub-contractors built into their agreements with the contractors. Stebbings said if approved, the project will be put out to bid in seven “spreads”, including one here in Valemount that will cover about 100 kilometers of the pipeline.

Kinder Morgan has set up a registry online for people interested in jobs, or in providing services and contracting, so they can pass that information on to the winning primary contractor for the Valemount spread. Margorie Knoor, Employment Lead for Trans Mountain, is also liaising with the Valemount Learning Centre’s employment services programs in both Valemount and McBride.

Stebbings says 47 per cent of the usual workforce for energy projects consists of semi-skilled positions, so they are in high demand. The presentation from Kinder Morgan shows a typical pipeline spread consists of about 430 workers, with 270 labourers, equipment operators and welder’s helpers, and the remaining 160 jobs in professional and highly skilled and certified positions.

Wendy Blaskovic is with the Trades and Technology Division of Thompson Rivers University, and generally works with high school students to show them the opportunities and paths in trades training, but she also works with the apprenticeship programs. She says the foundation programs are the longest time you would spend in school, because they really start from scratch, but the length of time varies by trade. TRU offers foundation programs for automotive service technicians, carpentry, electrical, heavy mechanical, parts and warehousing, plumbing and piping and welding, as well as professional cooking, retail meat cutting and horticulture. Blaskovic says there are currently year- to year-and-a-half wait lists for the welding, heavy duty and electrical programs.

After foundation, or for people who have experience in the trades already, the apprenticeship program allows shorter stints in school, in between periods of work, where you get real hands-on experience. Blaskovic says generally the difference between journeyman and Red Seal programs is that journeyman certification is valid in BC but often requires further certification in other provinces. Red Seal certification ensures recognition of their certificate throughout Canada, which may be something to consider when planning your training.

Blaskovic says there are also three programs available at TRU that residents may be able to take for free under the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement for unemployed or low-skilled workers: class 1 truck driver training, construction craft worker level 1, and the Women in Trades Training program.

Stebbings says Kinder Morgan is expecting a recommendation from the National Energy Board on the Trans Mountain Expansion project by January 2016. After that, the provincial cabinet will have three months to make a decision, and if approved, construction will start soon after.

If approved, the expansion will mean 90 new permanent jobs; 50 in BC and 40 in Alberta. Trans Mountain currently has about 450 permanent employees. If approved, the construction would take place from 2016 to 2018, with 4,500 workers at the peak of construction.