Tradespeople Are Backbone Of Our Economy​

Construction crew installing solar panels on a house

Roughly one quarter of the NWT’s workforce comes from outside the NWT and $400 million leaves the territory never to return. Some of that is work performed by tradespeople.

One way we can capture these dollars is by growing our own workforce. Finding tradespeople is also a major issue for homeowners, landlords, and the tenants who depend on them. The mines have the resources to hire what they need, while local companies struggle to retain and recruit tradespeople to service residential and business customers. It’s worse in the regional centres and the communities.

GRAPH Apprentices by Type of Trade & Gender NWT 2012 to 2021

The most apprentices we have produced  in the last 10 years is 90 in 2018. The average is 54 across 14 industry categories. Automotive repair leads the pack, averaging 13 a year.

Electricians (average 9) and heavy-duty equipment mechanics (average 8) come in second and third.

Home and car owners know what these numbers mean when their furnace breaks down or car needs work – it’s hard to get anyone. These trades professionals are in high demand in industry and virtually every other part of Canada.

Number of Certificates Granted to Registered Apprentices, by Select Trades and by Gender in NWT

Northwest Territories Revenue Options

The section of a GNWT report lays out how valuable growing the NWT resident workforce would be and how it is draining revenue when we don’t. It was issued by the Honourable Robert C. McLeod, Minister of Finance on February 2016 — TABLED DOCUMENT 20-18(2) TABLED ON MARCH 1, 2016.

  • Non-resident or “fly-in/fly-out” workers are individuals who work in one province or territory, but reside in another.
  • The NWT has a significant non-resident labour force because the NWT resident workforce is too small to meet the employment needs of the NWT economy. These workers are most commonly employed in the NWT’s resource and construction industries, which account for two-thirds of total earnings paid to non-resident workers.
  • Large numbers of non-resident workers represent lost potential economic activity in the NWT, and lost tax revenue to the GNWT.
  • Between 2003 and 2011, non-resident workers ranged between 5,700 and 8,600 workers, accounting for roughly one third of the NWT workforce; the second highest rate (after Nunavut) in the country and significantly higher than in all provinces.
  • Nearly half of non-resident employees working in the NWT claim residency in either Alberta or British Columbia.
  • Between 2003 and 2011 the number of NWT residents who worked in another jurisdiction (mainly Alberta, British Columbia, and Nunavut) ranged between 1,400 and 1,900.

People Want To Work​

NWT Labour Supply Outside Yellowknife_

In 2019, people aged 15 and over living outside Yellowknife were asked if they wanted a job. Over 4,000 said yes and well over half said they would accept rotational work. The bottom line is that people in the communities want to work.

The problem is, our schools are not providing them with the educational qualifications required to get into the trades, colleges and universities for the certificates and degrees they need. 

The school are trying their best but they are up against a lack of community healing options and housing. Hard to achieve academic goals when you live in an environment that perpetuates poverty. The good news is, people want jobs. That’s an opportunity to grow the NWT economy. 


Learn More About my Platform

My platform tackles pressing issues in Yellowknife and the NWT, from localized addiction treatment to affordable daycare. I aim to empower local businesses and address labour shortages in both public and private sectors. Acknowledging these interconnected challenges is my first step toward more effective governance.

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