Road and bridge building sector has many jobs in demand
The provincial government has budgeted $42 million in capital improvements to roads and bridges for the 2018-19 construction season.
“Our highway system is the province’s most important piece of economic infrastructure, so we need to ensure its longevity,” says Paula Biggar, Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister. “Investing in our roads and bridges will make the province’s transportation network safer and more efficient, while creating jobs for Islanders.”
Road and bridge building companies do work such as paving, bridge building, sanitary and storm sewer construction, site work, snow plowing, and demolition.
Jobs in road and bridge building and jobs in demand
- Skilled Labourers
- Heavy Equipment Operators
- Truck Drivers
- Heavy Equipment Mechanics
- Supervisors and Superintendents
- Consulting Engineers who design the roads
- Building surveyors
In the winter, jobs in this industry include driving snow plows, sanders and salt trucks, and the maintenance on those vehicles.
“There is a shortage in skilled labourers and heavy equipment operators,” says Melissa Paquet, Executive Director of the PEI Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association. “Qualified Heavy Equipment Operators and Mechanics are difficult positions to fill.
“Many older workers who have been in the industry for years are beginning to retire. To replace them with new younger qualified people is difficult. Experience is important when operating a $250,000 machine.”
Melissa says there is also a shortage of Flaggers. “Flaggers need to first take a safety course, but they don’t necessarily need to have experience, because they could be trained on the job.
“Flagging is a tough job. They are standing all day in all kinds of weather, and there can be an element of danger dealing with traffic. This year, we had the Contractors change their signage – high intensity florescent orange. This is to follow the 2016 update of the Prince Edward Island Temporary Workplace Traffic Control Manual 2016.”
“With the downturn out west, many skilled people have returned to PEI. It should help with some of the shortages in the industry. However, PEI employers cannot match the rate of pay workers receive there.”
PEI Road Builders and Heavy Equipment Association
On PEI, 4,000 to 5,000 people are employed directly and indirectly in the industry at the peak of the season.
The PEI Road Builders and Heavy Equipment Association has 21 regular members who are road builders and just over 100 associate members who supply goods and services such as equipment, fuel, and parts to the industry.
A positive forecast
“The industry is expecting a really busy few years ahead,” says Melissa. “In 2018, the province is spending $2.5 million more in the Capital Budget provincial paving than they spent last year. It’s a challenge for all the companies to find enough workers, and hopefully we will get the people we need.”
- The Construction Technology program from Holland College includes a component of heavy civil (roadbuilding).
- Civil Engineers, who design roads, need a university Engineering degree.
- JVI offers courses for Truck Drivers and Heavy Equipment Operators.
“SkillsPEI programs may support employers to cover the costs of training new employees,”
Finding work in the road and bridge building industry
“Anyone interested in working in this industry is welcome to contact our office. I can put people in touch with most of the roadbuilding companies in operation on PEI. Job seekers can send me a resumè, and I will forward it to our members.
“Job seekers can also contact company owners directly to ask what skills they are looking for and how to get into positions.
“Employee commitment is very important. Employers want to invest in people who are willing to stay with their companies for the long-term. They don’t want to train them and then lose them. Being such a seasonal Island, it is hard to get that commitment because many workers have to go off-Island in the winter to find employment to pay the bills.”
For more information about the PEI Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, call 902-894-9514.
Visit www.peirb.ca and click on Our Members for a list of employers in the industry.
For a list of roadbuilding tenders, visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/tenders.
Road/Bridge Building companies on Prince Edward Island – Hiring practices
- Cardigan Excavators Limited, Cardigan
- Curran & Briggs, Summerside
- Duffy Construction, Kinkora
- Island Coastal Services, Charlottetown
Help for employers to recruit, retain, and advance women in trades on PEI
In the summer of 2015, Women’s Network PEI began a three-year project called Supporting Island Trades Employers (SITE). Phase 1 is complete, and Michelle Blanchard is coordinating Phase 2.
“It’s a supply and demand equation,” says Michelle. “Our Trade HERizons program has supplied trades women, and now the SITE project is working with trades employers to increase demand. We are looking at their workplace practices and suggesting ways to recruit, retain, and advance women on PEI.”
The 12 employers on SITE’s advisory board represent companies across the Island, from smaller businesses such as Ridgeline Construction with 10 employees to larger firms such as Holland College and Maritime Electric.
“The project found that employers of all sizes have common concerns. SITE can help small employers which don’t have a human resource department to build their own action plans. We help them track their changes and look at their outcomes. The companies seem open to change.”
As part of the project, Michelle analyzed participating companies’ HR policies and employee orientation manuals. Focus groups were also held with Island tradeswomen.
“Since its start in 2009, Trade HERizons has helped to almost triple the number of tradeswomen on PEI. Yet we are hearing some women feel a sense of isolation because they are the only female in the shop. We have created professional development workshops where they can share ideas. Some of our employer advisors have agreed to sponsor these workshops.”
Monthly information sessions with employers will be held on general workplace issues. Employers will also have the opportunity to promote their companies and possibly recruit future employees.
“The knowledge-sharing piece of this project is going to be huge. After we have learned all we can from employers and employees, we will ask how we can best share this information to make workplaces more welcoming. Trades work can be challenging; for example, some women may not be able to do a lot of heavy lifting.
“I know of one employer who makes sure his female employee is busy doing something else when a heavy delivery comes in.
“I think the SITE project will have a lasting impact on the way PEI trades employers accommodate their employees.”
For more information on Women’s Network PEI, call 902-368-5040. Visit www.wnpei.org.
Funded by Status of Women Canada.
|For more information about the Road & Bridge Building sector on PEI, call 902-894-9514. Visit www.peirb.ca.|
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