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Calgary Stampede and the Trades

Yahoo! This past week has been a whirlwind of cowboy hats, rodeo, pancakes, and meet and greets at the 2024 Calgary Stampede – otherwise known as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth! Remarkably, despite the soaring temperatures, more than half a million people have visited the Stampede so far this year. Beyond the adrenaline rush, the Stampede is about coming together as a greater community. It’s a chance to meet new friends, reconnect with old ones, and celebrate the values of hard work, perseverance, and camaraderie that define life in Alberta and western Canada. These values not only define our province, but our diligent tradespeople and booming construction sector as well. Given the ongoing shortage of skilled trades workers, there has never been a more opportune moment to consider pursing a career in the trades. CLRA agrees with the Minister of Advanced Education – Minister Rajan Sawhney – that it’s never too early or too late to pursue an apprenticeship in some of Alberta’s most in-demand trades. If you’re enjoying the Stampede this week, be sure to drop by the Apprenticeship and Industry Training booth (Booth #2039) at the BMO Centre to learn more about training and apprenticeship opportunities in

Introduction To Pipe Trades Graduation

Construction Labour Relations Alberta attended the Educational Partnership Foundation’s (TEPF)’s “Introduction to Pipe Trades” graduation ceremony last month in Edmonton. Around the same time, other graduation ceremonies were held for future electricians, millwrights, ironworkers, carpenters, and those specializing in finishing trades, each class holding about 10-12 students. Through its presence on the Workforce Development Trust board, CLRA has partnered with TEPF, Alberta Pipe Trades College, Building Trades of Alberta, and others to fund $2.2M for this program since 2017. The Pipefitters Local Union 488 also provided resources to TEPF to facilitate this program. This initiative has enabled students to complete this training free of cost (around $5,000 per student). Closing ceremonies for these promising future tradespeople will be ongoing this month, including the Boilermaker graduations in both Edmonton and Calgary on July 19th. CLRA wishes each of these grads a bright future and a promising career in a field that is greatly needed across Alberta.

Arnold Rumbold: Honorary Electrical Installations Technology Diploma Recipient

Arnold Rumbold, a retired electrician and philanthropist, was a recipient of the 2024 Honorary Electrical Installations Technology Diploma at NAIT’s convocation ceremony last week. He’s a man who has embodied a lifelong passion for the skilled trades. His career as a master electrician and later as an esteemed estimator in the construction industry demonstrate both his technical prowess and entrepreneurial spirit. Beyond his professional achievements, Rumbold and his wife Grace are committed philanthropists. NAIT holds a special place in Rumbold’s philanthropic efforts, with the establishment of scholarships and bursaries aimed at supporting students in the trades, including initiatives that encourage female apprenticeship in traditionally male-dominated fields. Reflecting on his journey from rural beginnings to professional success, Rumbold emphasizes the importance of giving back and supporting others, inspired by his own upbringing and the opportunities he seized along the way. Arnold Rumbold’s story is a testament to the transformative power of education, innovation, and community support, highlighting how a passion for learning and a dedication to philanthropy can shape lives and communities for the better. CLRA congratulates Arnold on receiving his Electrical Installations Technology diploma. Learn more about Arnold Rumbold here.

Alberta’s Economic Outlook: Navigating Towards Growth in 2024 and Beyond

ATB recently released its quarterly economic analysis, providing wide-ranging insights into GDP, inflation, population and employment rates, and touching on sectors like agriculture, construction, and energy on both a provincial and national level. Over the past year, the province felt the bite of economic challenges caused by high interest rates, slower energy sector growth, and agriculture sector setbacks due to drought. However, ATB reports that Alberta is poised to rebound in 2025, driven by improvements in energy market access, stronger home construction, and meaningful expansion in the hydrocarbon and petrochemical manufacturing sector. Alberta’s economy has key tailwinds propelling it forward, with growth projections indicating a real GDP increase of 2.5% in 2024 and 2.7% in 2025, soundly outpacing the national average. This resurgence is marked by a shift towards multifaceted growth across sectors. Despite energy investment remaining below pre-2014 levels, expansions in sectors like hydrogen, biofuels, food manufacturing, and petrochemicals are contributing to economic vitality. Emerging industries such as technology, aviation, tourism, and film are also gaining traction, underscoring Alberta’s adaptability and potential for innovation. As evidenced by a 28% increase in building permits in early 2024, home construction is significantly driving growth, with residential investment projected to surge as

2024 Skills Canada National Competition Recap

Earlier this month, representatives from Alberta journeyed to Quebec City to compete in the 2024 Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC). After showcasing their exceptional skills on the national stage, they returned home with 36 medals. In fact, 77% of Team Alberta finished in the top 4! This impressive performance truly spotlights the dedication and capability of these future tradespeople. The Skills Canada National Competition is the premier national event for students and apprentices in various trades and technologies. Each year, over 500 of Canada’s top talents gather to compete in more than 40 different skill areas, including industrial mechanics, refrigeration and air conditioning, sheet metal work, carpentry, bricklaying, and more. During the event, thousands of students explore rewarding career opportunities in the skilled trades and technologies through dozens of exciting competitions, interactive activities, exhibitor booths, and by engaging with industry professionals. This year’s theme was “Creating Possibilities” – a fitting description given the necessary and enhanced focus on the skilled trades sector in Alberta. As our economy grows and expands, so too does the need for talented tradespeople to support our infrastructure needs. Now, more than ever, the focus on excellence in trades and technologies is being matched by employers

Build Your Future Here: NAIT’s Upcoming Advanced Skills Centre

As CLRA members are all too familiar with, the province continues to grapple with a shortage of skilled trades workers, which not only leaves critical construction jobs unfilled but increases the average Albertan’s overall cost of living. To help address this challenge – and create more opportunities for students to enter these high-demand fields – today, the Alberta government announced its investment of $43 million into the design and development of NAIT’s new Advanced Skills Centre (ASC). The ASC will aim to become a global leader in apprenticeship and cutting-edge, technology-based education, focusing on four key sectors: construction, transportation, manufacturing, and energy. During the announcement, Minister of Advanced Education Rajan Sawhney highlighted the ASC’s role in meeting Alberta’s growing economic demands by expressing that “Alberta is leading the way in skills and trades education”. With construction set to begin in 2025, the ASC will add 640,000 square feet of modern learning space to NAIT’s campus. This expansion will allow over 4,000 additional apprentices to graduate from NAIT each year, an institute which already boasts a 30% student representation in full-time apprenticeship and skilled trades programs. This investment in the development of the ASC is crucial for ensuring that Albertans wishing

Skilled workers play an important role in Trans Mountain Pipeline completion

This week, the first tanker filled with oil delivered by the Trans Mountain Pipeline left the Vancouver port for overseas markets. As Canada’s newest pipeline, Trans Mountain is delivering oil from Edmonton based refineries to tidewater in B.C., opening important new Pacific markets for Alberta energy resources, including Washington State, California, South Korean, Japan, China and India. “By providing Alberta with tidewater access to global markets the TMX Pipeline Project will ensure a strong future for our energy sector and continued investment in new energy infrastructure and create well-paying jobs throughout Alberta,” said CLRA President Joe McFadyen. “Our member companies, contractors and workers look forward to ensuring the viability of our province’s energy sector and meeting the energy needs of countries around the world.” Read more here:

CLRA Teaming Up with the Edmonton Elks

CLRA is excited to announce a new partnership with the Edmonton Elks for the 2024 season! This partnership is an important addition to our ongoing efforts to attract more people to work in the skilled trades. Just as we are proud of our local skilled tradespeople and the work they do, we are also proud to support and help build the CFL football community in Edmonton and northern Alberta this year. CLRA is planning events and promotions at all Elks home games this season. CLRA is proud to be this year’s Edmonton Elks Tailgate Presenting Partner! We hope you will join us in cheering on the Elks during their 75th season by joining us at one of the tailgate parties at this year’s home games. Click here for the schedule And whether you are at Commonwealth Stadium or watching on television, look for CLRA’s BuildYourFuture display ads at the games! Elks Football…Our Team Our City!

ATCO project to bring thousands of jobs to Alberta

ATCO Energy Systems announced its plans to launch the Yellowhead Mainline Project, a new energy infrastructure that will expand the capacity and efficiency of Alberta’s natural gas network. It will support energy, petrochemical, building materials and hydrogen projects that use natural gas and carbon-capture technology to produce products with lower emissions than previously possible. The project is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs during construction and will provide gas supply for the more than $20 billion of investment in associated employment in Alberta via its customers, including the Dow Fort Saskatchewan Path2Zero project. “Dow appreciates the partnership with ATCO to supply Dow’s Path2Zero project. Together, these projects will have a profound positive impact on communities, creating jobs and economic opportunity for Alberta,” says Diego Ordonez, President of Dow Canada.

Provincial Skills Canada Competition 2024

Construction Labour Relations Alberta is hosting an exhibitor booth at this year’s Provincial Skills Canada Competition from May 8 to 9 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Skills Alberta Canada will present the largest trade and technology career exploration event in Alberta, and CLRA is delighted to connect with the next generation of skilled and technology professionals.  Every year, Skills Canada Alberta hosts the Provincial Skills Canada Competition, an Olympic-style contest with 700 competitors showcasing their talent in 3D digital game art, robotics, cabinet making, sheet metal work, and more. The event celebrates skilled and technology professions and is a gateway to a world of career opportunities for secondary and post-secondary students. Hosting more than 80 of Alberta’s top employers, associations, labour groups, training institutes, and government partners, the event offers youth and young adults a large platform to explore a wide variety of skills, trades, and careers. It’s an exciting opportunity for the next generation to learn about different industries and participate in competitions, which will pave the way for their future success. We look forward to partnering with Skills Canada Alberta and meeting the industry’s next generation.

CLRA meets with Minister of Advanced Education

CLRA President Joe McFadyen and Board Chair Bonnie Smith represented members at a meeting with Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education Rajan Sawhney at the Alberta Legislature earlier this week. This was an important opportunity to discuss opportunities for partnerships between unionized construction employers and the provincial government, and solutions to develop the skilled trades workforce through education, training & apprenticeship opportunities – like the recently announced partnership between the ministry and IUOE 955. Over an hour-long meeting, CLRA discussed how members’ workforce development initiatives align with the Government of Alberta’s efforts to address the labour shortage in the construction industry. We also talked about our Seed vs. Sod approach to enticing workers to our province, and encouraging young people to build rewarding careers in our industry. CLRA looks forward to developing our relationships with our provincial government further, and to convening valuable policy discussions about skilled worker education, training, and economic development with Minister Sawhney and her cabinet colleagues, our unionized construction employer members, and our colleagues across all building trades.

Construction Sector Leads Alberta Job Growth in 2023-24

The Alberta government has released their latest report on labour market trends, based on data from Statistics Canada. Below are some of the key highlights and trends that are shaping Alberta’s labour landscape. One of the standout findings is the strong year-over-year job growth in the construction industry. Our sector has been the leading contributor to the province’s employment gains, with 12,767 more Albertans employed in the sector in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. This is welcome news to our members and workers. At the same time Alberta’s average weekly earnings were $1,297.76, showing a 2.5% year-over-year increase, indicating positive income growth for workers. In addition, the job vacancy rate in Alberta stood at 3.4%, reflecting a very competitive labour market. For 2023, the average annual job vacancy rate in Alberta came in at 4.2% compared to 4.8% in 2022 and 2.6% in 2019. The strong economy in our province continues to attract people to come west and fill the available jobs. Alberta has led Canada in population growth, up 4.4 per cent from a year ago. International migration contributed two-thirds of the overall provincial population gains. We also saw the highest net

The labour gap: Seed vs. Sod

Last week the CLRA rolled out our Seed vs. Sod thought leadership piece, where President Joe McFadyen discusses the merits, risks and rewards of attracting skilled workers to Alberta versus educating and training them here. Alberta is looking at about $22B in investments into our energy industry between now and 2030. Conservative estimates from Statistics Canada, BuildForce Canada, and many other industry groups and economic forecasters suggest this will create demand for more than 20,000 new jobs in the construction trades. This is a generational challenge, and Alberta will need multiple solutions to solve it. CLRA is working closely with the government, industry employers, and trades groups to support initiatives that will help attract and retain existing skilled trades workers and educate and train new young workers in the industry. We are committed to being part of the Alberta solution: from seed to sod.

Our website has a new look!

The Construction Labour Relations Alberta website has a new look! From streamlining our content, modernizing our style, to improving functionality, we like keeping things fresh. Check out our new site here:

International Women’s Day 2024

The Government of Canada’s theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Invest in women: accelerate progress.” CLRA stands behind improved access and opportunities for women to succeed in the skilled trades, with the goal to build a better future for themselves, the province, and the country. Today, we celebrate skilled tradeswomen that build and maintain our province. An organization that has partnered with CLRA in the past is Women Building Futures (WBF). WBF provides free training programs, career coaching, mentorship opportunities, and overall support for women wanting to enter careers in the skilled trades, trucking, and related fields. CLRA contractors have previously hired WBF graduates and are committed to empowering women to thrive in the construction industry. We encourage women to explore the rewarding world of trades careers. An excellent place to start looking is our new Work Alberta Trades website which offers women interested in trades information on career options, education opportunities, financial aid, and more. Happy International Women’s Day!

Bonnie Smith Presents at ACR AGM

CLRA Board Chair Bonnie Smith presented today at the Alberta Chamber of Resources AGM at the Edmonton Convention Centre. Smith discussed ways that Construction Labour Relations Alberta strives for innovation in a challenging labour market during the AGM’s afternoon panel. Presenting alongside Smith on the panel were Business Council of Alberta’s Economist and Manager of Policy Alicia Planincic, and the President of NAIT, Laura Jo Gunter. During her presentation Bonnie highlighted CLRA’s latest initiative through the Education – Work Alberta Trades campaign, to attract youth into the skilled trades in Alberta. Smith also shared CLRA’s success story of last year’s collective agreement settlements with skilled trade unions, which continues to help make Alberta among the most competitive job markets in the country in the construction industry.

Province Offers $5,000 Bonus To Attract New Skilled Trades Workers

The recent Budget 2024 announcement by the Alberta government included another incentive to attract skilled trades to move here. Finance Minister Nate Horner introduced the latest chapter of the province’s ‘Alberta is Calling’ campaign, which will offer a one-time $5,000 attraction bonus to eligible skilled trades workers. A total of $10 million is dedicated to the effort, designed to help 2,000 new workers relocate to Alberta beginning in the spring. Criteria for receiving the bonus include working full-time in high in demand trades, filing 2024 taxes in Alberta, and living in the province for at least 12 months. More information on the attraction bonus – both the application process and eligibility criteria – will be made available in the coming weeks. Budget 2024 reinforced the government’s vision to develop a workforce that meets the province’s short and long-term labour market needs. Altogether, the budget allocated $100 million in new funding toward apprenticeship programs, which includes the addition of over 3,000 apprenticeship seats in post-secondary institutions over the next year. Read all the budget highlights here, or more about the attraction bonus here.

Canadians are moving to Alberta in droves. How affordable is the province for homebuyers?

A recent report by Re/Max Canada continues to showcase that Alberta’s favourable tax environment and lower housing prices are attracting a rising number of Canadians – particularly from provinces like Ontario and British Columbia – to settle out West. The report found that tax rate increases, record-high housing values, and mortgage rates have led to a post-pandemic exodus from the country’s most expensive markets, with a significant uptick in interprovincial migration to Alberta. Specifically, Alberta welcomed a little over 45,000 people last year, doubling the numbers seen in 2022 according to Statistics Canada. The highest influx of new Albertans in the third quarter came from Ontario, followed by B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This trend of West-bound migration isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. CLRA is working in partnership with the province to attract skilled workers to address the labour demands for our growing economy. We hope that our upcoming education-focused campaign will encourage more Albertan youth – as well as adults changing careers – to consider pursuing the trades for long-term, well-paying, meaningful work. Read the full National Post article here.

Construction Boot Camp

Women Building Futures is offering a free, 4-week Construction Bootcamp in Calgary this spring from April 8 until May 3. This program presents an excellent opportunity for women in search of promising career opportunities in the ever-growing construction and maintenance industries. Students will receive basic safety certifications, learn how to read blueprints, and get hands-on skills training, amongst other relevant workplace skills. Financial aid, mentorship opportunities, and connections to future employers are additional benefits. Graduates will be interviewed for entry-level roles with program partners, and thus likely to secure relevant employment opportunities upon graduation. The deadline to apply is Feb. 29. Learn more about the program and how to register here:

Government Support For More Apprenticeship Seats

Alberta has announced significant support for the skilled trades sector today in a pre-budget news release indicating the government will create 3,200 additional apprenticeship seats at 11 post-secondary institutions across the province. These additional spaces are much needed to address the ever-growing industry demand for skilled workers in our economy. Today’s announcement by Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney would see the government invest an additional $24 million per year over the next three years. This brings the total funding for apprenticeship training to $78 million for the 2024-25 academic year. With a significant portion of Alberta’s skilled tradespeople entering retirement in the coming 5-10 years, the need to train and employ thousands of new apprentices is more urgent than ever, particularly as the provincial population continues to grow. The CLRA agrees with Minister Sawhney of Advanced Education: “Investing in apprenticeship education will supply Albertans with in-demand skills, nurture homegrown talent and support our labour market with world-class skilled tradespeople who keep our economy moving.” CLRA is doing our part to address this issue with by encouraging students to consider a career in skilled trades through our and #BuildYourFuture public education campaign. Read the government’s full announcement here.

Skilled Trades Shortages – and Opportunities

Matthew Lindberg, dean of NAIT’s School of Skilled Trades, recently announced that apprenticeship enrolments at NAIT are growing. So much so, in fact, that the number of people pursuing apprenticeships is at the highest level since 2014. This is a welcome fillip given the growing number of retirement-aged workers are outpacing the supply of new, working-age, labour market-ready participants. The good news is that people are sensing opportunities in the trades, and colleges are expanding facilities and enrolments to meet the need. NAIT’s Skilled Trades program, for example, is planning for an expected 12% increase in enrolments in the coming year that will go on to help support industry needs and meet apprenticeship demands. Underpinning this growth in interest in the trades is a healthy provincial economy, bolstered by steady population growth and significant construction projects underway in the province. Last year, to address increasing infrastructure needs, the Alberta government announced $15 million in funding to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities across various trades. Elsewhere, Lindberg has also commended the new Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act, which improves access to highly sought-after apprenticeship positions. Furthermore, NAIT’s Accelerated Trade Entry program and the Next In Trades event series helps

Board Chair New Year Address to Members

Dear Members, Another year has passed, and with it, a time for reflection of what has been achieved, and anticipation for the year to come. As the Chair of CLRA, I’m pleased to share our progress in 2023 and highlight what our members can look forward to in 2024. Our proudest achievement in 2023 is undoubtedly the finalization of outstanding Collective Agreements with all BTA trade divisions, with a term date of April 30, 2025.  Our success has resulted in Alberta offering some of the nation’s most competitive wages and labour jobs, which will ensure our industry’s health.  However, these agreements are due for renewal in April 2025 which means CLRA must begin now to prepare for bargaining to officially begin  in a little more than a year. We will share more information with our members on these plans as they become available in the months ahead. To that end, CLRA will continue to lobby government officials on key policy areas to support our work on behalf of employers in the construction sector. This includes protecting and enhancing Alberta’s construction registration bargaining system, addressing double-breasting, and streamlining the Common Employer Application process. To say that the province is growing is

Go West: Alberta is Still Calling

In a year end interview with the Calgary Herald’s Chris Varcoe, Premier Danielle Smith is confident that Alberta’s population will keep growing after two record-breaking years of growth. Last year, Alberta added nearly 200,000 newcomers to reach 4.7 million residents, reflecting a 4.3% annual growth rate. The province’s reasonably priced housing market, wealth of work opportunities, low cost of living, and overall high quality of life are fuelling population growth. Further, large-scale industrial and agricultural projects from companies like Dow, Inter Pipeline, Keyera, and Nutrien amongst others, drive continued investment from employers, workers, and businesses alike. The Premier put it this way: “We need skilled workers. We know that being able to manage growth means that we’ve got to get more boilermakers and millwrights and electricians and welders — and this is going to be our opportunity to tell the rest of the country that we love the professions and the trades, and we want you here.” The province is planning another phase of the Alberta is Calling campaign in 2024 to attract skilled workers to the province. Read the full article here.

Resource Diversification Council hosts government reception with Premier, Cabinet, and Caucus

On Monday, November 27 the CLRA joined with our partners in the Resource Diversification Council (RDC) to host Premier Danielle Smith, her cabinet members, and fellow MLA colleagues to the RDC’s first-ever government reception event held at the Queen Elizabeth II building in Edmonton. During the evening, RDC members shared information with the provincial government about the significant benefits Alberta receives from investment in the provinces diversified petrochemical sector. The Premier relayed the government of Alberta’s efforts to support the sector through investment tax credits, the need to attract and sustain a skilled labour workforce, and Alberta’s policies to reduce and manage carbon emissions from industry. CLRA President Joe McFadyen and Board Chair Bonnie Smith had the opportunity to meet and speak with the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Brian Jean, and the Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade, Matt Jones. They shared our efforts to strengthen Alberta’s skilled labour force by highlighting our marketing initiatives, including the CLRA’s #BuildYourFutureInAlberta campaign. Overall, the reception was a key opportunity for the CLRA to highlight to the Alberta government and RDC’s regional stakeholders, the valuable contributions that a reliable, stable, and highly skilled workforce can bring to economic development.  We look forward to