Interest in work opportunities with the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is heating up as the projected start of construction draws nearer.

Trans Mountain representatives have been connecting with people at job and career fairs around BC and Alberta since 2013, answering questions and providing information about the kinds of jobs that will be available when the Project breaks ground later this year.

More than 3,000 people have now registered on Trans Mountain’s Skills and Employment Inventory Database — nearly twice as many compared to October 2016, a few weeks prior to the federal government’s decision in favour of the Project.

Trans Mountain doesn’t guarantee a job to those who register — the Project’s contractors will carry out the hiring — but it’s committed to maximizing opportunities for Aboriginal, local and regional workers. TMEP’s online registry will be used to inform people when contractors stage their own hiring fairs and promote employment opportunities as the start of construction draws closer.

Trans Mountain has produced a 22-page Employment Opportunities brochure outlining the variety of workers needed. Most jobs are required during construction. They range from Aboriginal environmental monitors to truck drivers, trades, technicians and professions such as engineering. The expanded system will create more operations jobs as well.

Job and career fairs alert a wide range of workers about opportunities that may suit their skills. TMEP acts as a sponsor of the events, and maintains a booth that people can visit and get more details about the Project.

Trans Mountain representatives attended 12 fairs in the first three months of 2017, in communities including Edmonton, Canim Lake, Kamloops, Merritt, Chilliwack, Mount Currie and Esquimalt.

“Trans Mountain participates in fairs put on by Aboriginal groups or Aboriginal associations such as the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council, which works with multiple First Nations in the Merritt area and the Nicola Valley,” explained Annie Korver, TMEP Lead, Employment and Training. “We participate in fairs with educational institutions such as Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and Thompson Rivers University. We also participate with employment offices — the Merritt Work Centre, Yellowhead Tribal Development Foundation.

“We talk to people about the kinds of jobs that will be available and the requirements. For now, we ask them to register in our online database so we can continue to keep in touch. When the contractors come on we can reach out and let them know when hiring will start, and the contractors will then use the database for communication purposes to promote job opportunities.”

Many of those visiting the Trans Mountain booth have similar questions, Korver noted. “People want to know when hiring will start, what the jobs are and the job requirements. We also have a lot of conversations around the training programs we support for Aboriginal peoples. There are secondary conversations around people wondering if contracts have been let yet — they want to get a head start.”

Korver and Martha Matthew, Coordinator, Training and Employment,

Aboriginal Engagement, help people determine whether their skills and experience line up with the requirements of a pipeline construction Project.

“If it’s someone that hasn’t finished high school but has a lot of experience in construction, for example, then you’d be looking at opportunities described on the semi-skilled workers page of our jobs brochure,” Korver said.

Matthew, who has a Bachelor of Arts in Adult Education, said the ages and skills of visitors to the booths varies according to the location. For younger visitors, her advice was to keep up with their studies.

“If it was a career fair, many high school students from grade 8 and up attended. I engaged participants in trying to determine what their career interests were and provided specific information on potential jobs,” Matthew said. “Many of the students were undecided or had no idea of what they might want to do in the future. My recommendation was to ensure they took the basic subjects of English, math and a science — which are required for post secondary education or entry into trades training leading to apprenticeships.”

Other locations attracted a different demographic. In Edmonton, most were well-qualified oilfield workers. At Merritt, experience in forestry was common.

“In Merritt, the local Tolko sawmill had closed in December 2016. We had a wide range of participants, such as tradespeople with years of experience. For example, we spoke with three millwrights. I referenced our trade and crew-size charts and found they could potentially find employment in the construction of pump stations,” Matthew said.