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.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan speaks in the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday in this image from his Facebook page.
Red Deer MLA Jason Stephan sounds off on socialism in anti-lockdown speech

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has applauded his government’s COVID-19 response, saying… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

A GoFundMe campaign to support a Stettler couple following a fire has raised more than $3,000. (Contributed photo)
Family pet dies in Stettler fire

GoFundMe page has raised more than $3K so far

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) is tackled by Coastal Carolina linebacker Enock Makonzo (43) and safety Cameron Mitchell (49) during the first half of an NCAA football game in Lafayette, La., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. It's already been a season to remember but Canadian Enock Makonzo and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will chase two more firsts Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Paul Kieu
Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Atlanta United's Mo Adams, right, challenges Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo during first half MLS soccer action in East Hartford, Conn., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo says he finished the season with an injured leg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jessica Hill
Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart speak to the media during a visit to the Molson Overdose Prevention Site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Thursday, January 16, 2020. City councillors in Vancouver voted unanimously this week to ask federal officials for an exemption to Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a decision advocates hope will blaze a trail for the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use in other municipalities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Senator Murray Sinclair appears before the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Sinclair is planning to leave the Senate early next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Carolina De La Torre, right, owner of Arepas Ranch in Calgary, poses for a photo with her husband in this undated handout photo. The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in the province remembers her encounter with the premier as a lot less dramatic than he suggested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carolina De La Torre *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question from a reporter during a bi-weekly news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Most Read