by Gloria Welton
“The boat building industry is booming,” says Jay Campbell, Project Manager of Provincial Boat and Marine Ltd., a long-standing manufacturer of fiberglass fishing boats in Kensington, PEI.
The industry on PEI is relatively small in size, but is bursting at the seams with opportunities for growth. “There are about 12 companies on PEI building and repairing boats. Most likely 100 people are employed across the industry, and we need more.
“Provincial Boat and Marine is booked with orders six years ahead, and this demand is standard across the Island and across Atlantic Canada. It is the busiest we have ever seen the industry in our company’s 45 years of building boats.
“Prior to the recession in 2008, we were shipping 75 percent of our product into the US. Over the years we have also had customers in Bermuda, Fiji, West Indies, Netherlands Antilles, and the Bahamas. Currently, the majority of our customers are from the Atlantic provinces.
“Strong lobster catches and decent prices are certainly contributing factors to the growth in this industry. Our business has been here for a long time and we foresee a great future. It is a good stable business and has great employment potential.”
Staff recruitment needs
“I think it is hard to recruit qualified staff with the right aptitude because the industry is small in size and it gets overlooked as a strong career option. This industry provides stable, year-round work that provides good pay, a rewarding work setting with lots of room to develop skills, and work that is not routine and involves a multitude of tasks.”
Jay says that candidates with carpentry skills are the best fit, but trades experience in auto body or manufacturing can also be a fit. “Some of our staff also do plumbing and electrical, which makes them well rounded in trades.”
The average age of staff at Provincial Boat and Marine is 45. “Some of our people have been here more than 35 years. They have a lot of practical knowledge that we would like to pass on to the next generation of staff. We are working with Workplace Learning PEI to help transfer in-house knowledge and to offer other types of training that will help staff and the company.
“Our doors are always open to receive applications, and we welcome youth. We advertise on our website and on the Job Bank. We are always looking for the right fit. Applicants should be able to lift about 150 pounds.”
Working with the community to raise awareness of opportunities in this industry
“I hired someone form the Youth in Trades program in Summerside, which is sponsored by the PEICA. We are very pleased with the person we hired through this program, which helps youth explore options in the trades.”
Jay says some work has been done by the provincial government to include the boat building trade in the PEI Apprenticeship program. “I think the industry would get good quality candidates looking for a career if we raised the profile and awareness of the profession. Having boat building as a designated apprenticeable trade is certainly a move in the right direction.
“A comprehensive boat building training program in a post-secondary institution would certainly be timely and a benefit to the industry. Also, exposing more youth in the secondary and post-secondary systems to this trade is important. Awareness of the choices and opportunities would go a long way.”
Wages and work schedules
At Provincial Boat and Marine, entry level staff start at $15 per hour for a work week of 42 hours. “We offer competitive wages for those who come to us as a journeyman with trade experience. This is full-time year-round work.”
For more information about Provincial Boat and Marine Ltd., call 902-836-3533.
For more about Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association, click here.