Thursday, August 27, 2015


If you take a few minutes to surf through the publications on the provincial government website you will find a decade of throne speeches and budgets promising a sustainable future, prosperity and self-reliance.

A few titles to consider include:

  • A New Future, A Renewed Pride
  • The Right Choices: Momentum for Growth and Prosperity 
  • Forward to Self-Reliance
  • Securing a  Sustainable Future
  • The Right Investments - For Our Children and Our Future

  • Standing Strong For Prosperity. For Our Future. For Newfoundland and Labrador

Color me confused but what gives with the dire outlook for skilled workers in the province.

Sure, the work on mega-projects creates a boom and bust scenario but has the provincial government not been pushing the skilled trades as an area of particular need and opportunity? Other areas included  the vast majority of jobs in health, sales and service, and management. The labour market is shifting.

The times seem to be changing. In 2011 Human Resources Minister Darin King announced that there will be 70,000 job openings in the province by 2020. 

In fairness these were not all in the skilled trades but even the Newfoundland Federation of Labour was excited about the potential. "We're looking at an incredible sea change," said Lana Payne, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, after King's presentation. "Where we've had an oversupply of workers and not enough work, to a situation where we're going to have incredible opportunities for working people in our province.", sated Lana Payne, than president of the NL Federation of Labour.

Fast forward to 2015 and the short-term labour picture looks gloomy - particularly for skilled trades people. The total number of jobs that are expected to become available through retirements and new opportunities has been downgraded in the Labour Market Outlook for 2020 by 10,000 overall. The real kicker, a sharp drop in employment opportunities over the next three years - 24,000 less jobs by 2018!

To put that in perspective, that is 24,000 less paychecques - a population the size of the Towns of Stephenville, Deer Lake, Torbay, Lewisporte and Bay Roberts combined! 

Adding to the confusion, reports that the jobs that our young people are training for might be redundant within the end of the decade.

Tons of debt, training for jobs that do not exist. One can not help but wonder who is at the wheel guiding the workforce strategies.

13 years of unparalleled opportunity and we are about to nosedive into a period of dramatic economic uncertainty.

Ask yourself, do you feel any of those lovely tittles aptly describes where we as a province are today?

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