Massive Skills Shortage Facing Northeast BC

Opportunity: Demand For Skilled Workers On The Rise In NE BC

  • At a projected rate of 11%, the northeast region is predicted to have BC’s highest annual growth in demand for workers over the next 10 years.

  • Northern Lights College serves the northern third of BC, including five campus locations in the northeast. It covers a vast area of approximately 325,000 square kilometers with a population base of 70,000.

  • This means the region has low population density resulting in challenges in the delivery of education and training.

  • Job growth is forecast to be primarily in oil and gas exploration and production, logging, wood products manufacturing, agriculture, hydroelectricity generation – all requiring labour with specialized skills and expertise.

Project: Northeast Regional Workforce Table

The mandate of the Northeast Regional Workforce Table was to help find effective solutions to the skills gap challenge through broad based collaboration at the community, regional, and provincial levels.

The key deliverable of the RWT was to develop a plan to clarify labour demand, provide an in-depth gap analysis of available skills training in the region and recommend actions to better align training with job opportunities in the Northeast.  The four key components of the plan are:

  • Increase the pool of potential workers for high-demand occupations

  • Increase capacity in the region to develop and deliver agile training.

  • Enhance skill development for new and growing business in Northeast BC.

  • Address any training gaps for high demand occupations.

Labour Force Training At Northern Lights College

Northern Lights College has taken steps to address training gaps for high demand occupations. Here are two examples:

Heavy Equipment Operator: in 2013, NLC offered HEO programs in Atlin, Tumbler Ridge, Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek. Normally, tuition and fees would total about $12-13,000 per student however, thanks to funding through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement they have been offered at no charge to qualified students.

Primary Production Labourers: in addition to the two regular intakes of Oil and Gas Field Operator program each year at NLC’s Fort St. John Campus (16 students per intake), a special intake for 12 students was offered in Dawson Creek in the summer 2013. As well, another special intake is being offered on-site at the Chetwynd Campus starting February 2014, with seating for 12 Dual Credit and four adults students. NLC also offered a special intake of the program in Fort Nelson in 2010-11.

These programs have been designed to make training for high demand occupations more accessible for students in all parts of the region as well as more affordable. 

About Northern Lights College

Region served: Northeast
Main industries: Oil & Gas and Mining
Locations: Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, Tumbler Ridge, Atlin, Dease Lake and Hudson’s Hope
Campuses/learning centres: 8
Centres for excellence: Centre of Training Excellence in Oil & Gas, Centre of Excellence in Aerospace and Clean Energy
Students served annually: 10,000+
Programs offered: Certificates, diplomas and associate degrees

Northern Lights College (NLC) is B.C.’s Energy College®, serving northern BC. The province’s Centre of Training Excellence in Oil & Gas at the Fort St. John Campus includes a Simulated Well Site Training facility and a full-sized drilling rig. NLC is also a centre of excellence in Aerospace and Clean Energy offering the only BZEE international certification for Wind Turbine Training at its state of the art Energy House in Dawson Creek.

Northern Lights College Media Contact:
Brad Lyon, Executive Director, Communications and Community Relations
Tel: 250- 784-7589
Cell: 250- 219-3073

Media Contact BC Colleges:
Cindy Ball – 604-828-8050
Alix Cameron – 604-839-2770