Northwest Community College Provides Skilled Workers to Expand BC’s Transportation Capacity

Opportunities: $60 Billion in Projected Major Projects

  • Northwestern British Columbia has a wealth of under-developed forest, mineral, and coastal resource and within the coming decade there is over $60 billion in large-scale projects underway and planned for the region.

  • The region is in the early stages of an economic boom that the major mining, oil and gas projects (valued at over $60 billion) will create.

  • Northwestern BC has some of the highest unemployment rates in Canada, particularly among Aboriginal people who make up approximately 40 per cent of the region’s population.

  • This new activity has tremendous potential for new employment opportunities to people in the region.

  • However, there is a shortage of the skilled workers needed to support these major projects.

Project A: Port of Prince Rupert Ridley Terminus Expansion

Employer: Ridley Terminals Inc.
Value: $200 million

Ridley Terminals Inc. is the most advanced terminal of its kind, making it a world leader in the efficient and reliable movement of coal and other bulk commodities from unit trains onto ships. The terminal has an annual shipping capacity of 12 million tonnes. Expansion plans are currently underway to increase annual throughput to 25 million tonnes by the end of 2014. The Ridley Terminals Capacity realization project will cost approximately $200 million and is funded entirely by revenue from operations. The project is expected to require an approximate total of 690,000 person hours, or 350 person years, during the construction period.

Project B: Ridley Island Rail and Utility Corridor

Employer: Prince Rupert Port Authority
Value: $90 million

The project will be constructed to include an access road, rail loop, utilities, onshore terminal infrastructure and marine components. The completion of this project will act as a catalyst for further developments at the Ridley Island Industrial Park. By providing vehicle and rail access as well as basic utilities to prospective users, the Prince Rupert Port Authority will be able to attract investments consistent with the 2020 Gateway Vision.

Labour Force Requirements

Currently Ridley Terminals Inc. employs over 145 people at the terminal, and more positions will be added as capacity continues to increase through 2014. Michelle Bryant of Ridley Terminal Inc. states, “If people were to retire at 65 we would expect to see 43% of our current employees retire over the next 15 years.  With 145 employees, that is a big number.  This number does not include additional positions that will result as part of our expansion.  Since August of 2011 RTI has hired 48 people, some due to retirement and some as a result of our expansion.”

Employment opportunities on these projects include but are not limited to; project management, project supervision, safety/HR coordination, heavy equipment operators, heavy-duty mechanics and GPS surveyors.

Labour Force Training at Northwest Community College

In January 2013, NWCC signed an agreement with Ridley Terminals Inc. and School District No. 52 to provide skills training initiatives that benefit the Northern Coastal region called the Coastal Pathways Partnership.  The partnership – a unique initiative created to develop and provide state-of-the-art, sustainable trades training for people living in coastal communities of Northwest BC – will respond to the needs and aspirations of local residents for long-term employment to support economic growth in the region. The five-year Coastal Pathways Partnership will provide an investment of $350,000 towards delivering skills training specifically targeting the needs of this region.

In response to this particular workforce need, a Millwright/Industrial Mechanic – Foundation Training is now offered in Prince Rupert as part of the Coastal Pathways Partnership.  The Millwright/Industrial Mechanic – Foundation Training is geared toward high school students and adults. Through ACE IT (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training), grade 11/12 students earn high school credits and an opportunity to receive credit for first level apprenticeship/technical training. This dual-credit industry certification program means students get a head start towards completion of an apprenticeship.

In early November 2013, Ridley Terminals Inc. donated a number of pieces of industrial heavy equipment from its Prince Rupert operations to Northwest Community College (NWCC) for practical use in trades training. The machinery, including two dozers, an excavator, a grader, a forklift, an ambulance and a flat deck truck, will be used for demonstrations, troubleshooting and repair practices in NWCC’s Heavy Duty Equipment Technician program.

About Northwest Community College

Region served: North Coast & Nechako
Main industries: Agriculture, Export, Fishing, Forestry, Mining, Tourism and Transportation
Locations: Hazelton, Houston, Skidegate, Kitimat, Masset, Prince Rupert, Queen Charlotte, Smithers and Terrace
Campuses/learning centres: 9
Trades facilities: Prince Rupert, Terrace, Smithers campuses plus mobile training units and school district partnerships
Students served annually: 8,000+
Programs offered: Certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in access, business, health, university credit and trades and apprenticeship training programs.

Northwest Community College (NWCC) offers comprehensive education and training to the 34 urban, rural and remote communities of northwestern BC. Through an innovative distributed learning model that includes 9 campuses/learning centres, current technology, mobile units, and partnerships, NWCC brings relevant education and training to where it is needed. NWCC is a leader in Aboriginal education where Aboriginals make up roughly 40 per cent of the student body.

Northwest Community College Media Contact:
Debra Wall, Acting Manager, Communications & Public Relations
Tel: 1.877.277.2288 (Toll Free) or 250.638.5494

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