Nfld. & Labrador

Vale hiring boom suits students well

A steep demand for skilled trades workers at the construction site for Vale's nickel processing facility near Long Harbour means excellent prospects for students enrolled training programs.
Skilled labour shortages have been forecast for Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC )

A steep demand for skilled trades workers at the construction site for Vale's nickel processing facility near Long Harbour means excellent prospects for students enrolled training programs.

Vale is trying to recruit for about 1,700 jobs at the site, and is short workers in a dozen trades. This weekend, Vale advertised for 600 pipefitters alone.

Union official Jim Myers: 'It's a very positive thing because that means we're going to be very busy.' (CBC)

"With them looking for 600, it's promising and it's just starting when we go out," said Dawn Deveaux, who is attending a pipefitters' school in Mount Pearl. "Maybe we just lucked into a job."

At a starting wage of $33.64 an hour, fellow student Stacey Young hopes to be an apprentice at Long Harbour.

"It means that we have job security because like we can stay here and work," Young said. "We don't have to go away. We can be with our friends and our families for a while."

Jim Myers, the business manager with the United Association, the union that represents pipefitters and other skilled trades, said if Vale cannot find workers in Canada, it will recruit outside.

However, he said the demand for jobs is excellent news for young people coming into the industry.

"It's a very positive thing because that means we're going to be very busy, and these young people who are doing the courses here with us are going to have the opportunity to get some on-the-job experience and to move forward with the apprenticeships," he said.

Vale will process nickel concentrate from the Voisey's Bay nickel mine at the Long Harbour site. Construction there started in 2010.

Last week, the Newfoundland and Labrador government created a new department — advanced education and skills — to help address a looming shortage of skilled labour in the province. [MORE: See new minister Joan Burke's interview with On Point.]