There's those two little words again - labour shortage.
NDP leader Lorraine Michael recently blamed the provincial government for not admitting to a labour shortage in this province and for not taking the shortage seriously.
Ms. Michael believes a more aggressive strategy would bring workers from out west back home to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Really? Last time I checked any jobbank our heavy equipment operators and mechanics weren't being offered $40 an hour. Why would those making a living out west and "raking in the dough" want to come home and work the same job for only pennies? I know I wouldn't. Sure, home is home and money isn't everything, but whether you want to or not you still have to pay the bills and working in this province right now - it's hard to do that for minimum wage or a little better.
Not only that, but the province has the highest unemployment rate in the country right now. If anyone were to leave Alberta, British Columbia or Ontario for a job back home, would the job security also be guaranteed?
Premier Kathy Dunderdale stated more co-operation was needed in the labour movement to help ensure local skilled workers benefited from upcoming mega development projects. However, what does a worker do when these projects are over? No doubt they are given a lay off and left in the dark once again. Our skilled workers are forced almost yearly to rely on Employment Insurance due to the seasonal nature of their jobs or the company's inability to pay the skilled workers year-round.
As residents and taxpayers of this province, Newfoundland and Laradorians should have every opportunity to take advantage of employment within their own province - and meaningful employment at that.
Instead of paying all their attention on the 25-50 year future of the province, politicians should face the issue of the labour shortage now to ensure a trades/workforce future for our workers.
The provincial government must implement policies and programs to increase post secondary attainment rates and an increase in apprenticeship programs. The provincial government should also increase its investment in the college system and wage subsidy programs to at least match the national average and better market and promote the growing demand for skills education in this province.
Newfoundland and Labrador must be a province people know they can find the training they need to get and maintain a good career, where employers feel confident that every employee they hire from this province has the necessary skills and knowledge to do the job and do it well.
Sadly, as most of us know, we have been doing that and losing our workers to much higher paying provinces and countries worldwide.
I believe for any skilled worker to stay at home, the wages simply must increase. If a company can't pay enough to provide a living, why should a skilled trades worker accept the job? It's common sense really.
Raising pay in sectors with shortages would encourage people to get the needed education to work in that particular sector and keep them there. Plain and simple. You don't need any feasibility study or research team to figure that one out.