Labour shortage a ‘society’ problem: APEGGA

As an engineer, Jim Smith trusts numbers. And he thinks numbers suggest a solution to Alberta’s looming labour shortage.

As an engineer, Jim Smith trusts numbers. And he thinks numbers suggest a solution to Alberta’s looming labour shortage.

President of the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA), Smith noted that there’s currently 3.3 Canadians available for every posted job opening.

“You don’t need a calculator to figure out that three is greater than one,” he said. “You’ve got lots of people, so why are we having a labour shortage?”

The problem rests with the locations and skills of those people, the latter of which could be addressed.

Smith said he has spoken with the deans of the engineering faculties at the universities of Calgary and Alberta. Both acknowledged that they turn down hundreds of applicants who would be good students but fail to make the enrolment cut.

“We’re not in a position to offer these young people opportunities to grow and develop, yet we’re complaining about not having enough people to work in the industry.”

Students also encounter problems prior to post-secondary education, suggested Smith.

He described how APEGGA is involved in a pilot project in Calgary where its members work with students in grades 10 to 12. Young people who struggle in traditional classrooms thrive when they understand the practical applications of what they’re learning.

Smith also pointed out that more than 80 per cent of graduates remain close to where they went to school.

It makes sense, therefore, to offer industry-relevant training near where the jobs exist.

He doesn’t think industry, educators and government are working closely enough to find solutions.

“The challenge we have is it’s not an educators’ problem, it’s not an industry problem, it’s not a problem of students — it’s a society problem, and we don’t have any leadership to move this whole thing forward.”

APEGGA is working to attract more aboriginals to the professions it represents. But until educational capacity increases, many of the young people who respond won’t be able to access the related training.

Smith was in Central Alberta on Monday, speaking with industry officials and taking part in an APEGGA dinner in Red Deer.

A resident of Grande Prairie, he worked for Weyerhaeuser for 32 years before retiring nine years ago.

APEGGA is a self-regulated professional association with more than 63,000 members.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New Brunswick setback shows caution needed when reopening, Tam says

The COVID-19 cluster that has forced New Brunswick to roll back some… Continue reading

Trump preparing order targeting social media protections

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is preparing to sign an executive order… Continue reading

Kids can make art to brighten Red Deer seniors’ lodges.

The library’s Kindness in Bloom art project runs this week

Downtown businesses will miss RDC students

Donald School of Business moving to main campus

Kelowna, B.C., man charged with murder in Alberta killing

A second man is also wanted in connection with the first degree murder of Cody Michaloski

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Opinion: Fix the long-term care horror

There’s a long-term-care crisis in Canada that is crying out for short-term,… Continue reading

NWSL returning to play with summertime tournament in Utah

Pro soccer returns to the U.S. next month when the National Women’s… Continue reading

Hockey Canada cancels summer camps, going virtual with training camps

CALGARY — Hockey Canada announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled all… Continue reading

NASA chief “all in” for Tom Cruise to film on space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is rolling out the International Space Station’s… Continue reading

CTV drama ‘Cardinal’ leads Canadian Screen Awards TV pack with seven wins

TORONTO — Three shows that have left the air for good in… Continue reading

If an MP heckles in a virtual House of Commons, does it make a sound?

If an MP heckles in a virtual House of Commons, does it make a sound?

Most Read