21 June 2006

Canadian nuclear industry fears skills shortage

The future of Canada's nuclear power industry could rest in the hands of migrants with a shortage of local skilled workers expected.

The Globe and Mail reports on how up to 40% of the current workforce in Canada's nuclear industry will be eligible for retirement over the next decade.

This potential shortage of professional engineers and technical support staff comes just as Ontario has announced plans to solve its electricity generating shortage by expanding its nuclear capacity, spending more than $40-billion over the next 20 years building two new nuclear reactors and refurbishing existing ones.

With local universities having cancelled undergraduate programs in nuclear engineering following a slump in the industry, and only recently restarting them, there are quite simply not enough skilled workers to fill the spaces of those employees who will leave the industry through natural wastage.

Bruce Power, the major player in the nuclear market in Canada, deals with its shortage of skilled workers by raiding other sectors, mainly the oil and gas and construction sectors, for the talent it needs. With these sectors equally stretched though, there are opportunities for migrant workers.

Bruce pays a professional engineer a starting salary of $90,000 to $120,000 a year and a draftsperson, $60,000 to $80,000 a year.

The Ontario Government recently announced planned reforms that would help break down barriers for international workers arriving in the Province.

Centered mainly on providing training and making assessment of skills quicker, if passed the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006, would help put international arrivals on a level playing field in the jobs market with native Ontarians.

Ontario welcomes Over 140,000 new arrivals each year.

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