by Gloria Welton
“The boat building industry on PEI remains on a steady course and it is a good trade choice that more people should consider,” says Jay Campbell, Project Manager of Provincial Boat and Marine Ltd.
The business is the oldest manufacturer of fiberglass fishing boats in Eastern Canada, and is located in Kensington, PEI.
Jay combined his trades background with a university degree in Political Science and a Master of Business Administration from UPEI. “The main reason for continuing my education is to address the human resource challenges in this field,” says Jay.
He says a career in the trades is a solid choice. “You can work in trades anywhere across Canada and make a good living. For me the combination of skills and education has guided me to continue to manage a successful business.”
Since no training for boat building is offered on PEI, Jay learned his skillset on the job with his parents Gordon and Elaine Campbell, who bought the company in the 1990s after working there since the 1970s.
The industry on PEI is relatively small but there are many employment opportunities in a year-round career that pays well. “About 12 companies on PEI build and repair boats,” says Jay.
“Most likely 120 people are employed across the industry, and we need more. It is extremely challenging to attract people to the industry, and we hope to find more ways to get a strong message out about the opportunities.
“Provincial Boat and Marine is booked with orders about four years ahead. We are seeing a need for a steady supply of fishing boats to be built. Currently, most of our customers are from the Atlantic provinces.
“Even though we have orders booked a few years ahead, it goes year by year as we wait and see what happens with the industry economy. Now the fishing industry is faced with high fuel prices, recent interest rates hikes, and other cost increases.
“Our business has been here for a long time, and it has been a good stable business with great employment potential.”
Staff recruitment needs
There are 10 people on staff, and Jay says they would like to hire a few more, but applications are just not coming in. “We have staff who have been with us from seven years to 40 years and we will be facing retirements in the next 10 years.
“We would like to make sure we transfer the knowledge and experience of our present staff on to the next generation of staff, but we need to find ways to bring new people in at a level that we can handle as training takes time and a lot of effort.
“It is hard to recruit qualified staff with the right aptitude because the industry is small and it gets overlooked as a strong career option. Our company offers 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 match. “Some of our staff also do plumbing and electrical, which makes them well-rounded in trades skills.
“For those who have limited trades experience, we are willing to train on the job if the person has the right aptitude and interest.
“Our doors are always open to receive applications, and we welcome youth. We are always looking for the right fit.”
Working with the community to train staff and raise awareness of opportunities
The company is working with Workplace Learning PEI to help transfer in-house knowledge and to offer other types of training.
Over the years, Jay has worked with Workplace Learning PEI to help the company develop standards and to train the company’s supervisors to help them work with the younger staff and communicate more effectively. The training has allowed conversations such as expectations of work priorities and how family dynamics affect work/life balance. “We are so busy, but we made time for this training, and it has made a difference.”
Jay says work needs to be 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. Making boat building a designated Red Seal trade would be a move in the right direction.
“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 $18 per hour and have a work week of 42 hours. “We offer competitive wages for journeymen with trades experience. This is full-time year-round work.”
Future plans on hold until more staff are hired
Jay says they would like to look into using more automation, but at this point he does not have the right number of staff to make the time for training and transition.
“It is a real catch-22 right now – automation would help with production, but I need more staff before pursuing any kind of company transition.
“We are always looking for quality employees and are willing to talk with those who would like to take a look at a career with us.”
If you think you would be a good fit, call or send your resumé to [email protected]
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about Provincial Boat and Marine Ltd., call 902-836-3533. Visit www.provincialboat.com