Meet the Mayor
March 19, 2014
Many of you reading this column know the experience of being unemployed and scrambling for work. Your job was to find a job and you worked at it diligently for eight hours every day without coffee breaks or holiday pay. You knocked on doors and punched in telephone numbers until your fingers were calloused and raw. You didn’t? I thought you would have.
I know that long memories tend to colour almost-forgotten experiences; they blend experience with experience until we have manufactured the memories of our dreams. I seem to recall beating the pavement in Vancouver as a student attempting to fend off the spectre of starvation, if not the reality, with cardboard in my shoes because the leather was gone. Met lots of sympathetic employers who didn’t need a student who couldn’t stay employed beyond August. That was before the days of student loans so I didn’t end up with a massive debt that would have sucked me dry for a decade.
Have things changed in the last 55 years? It seems now that finding suitable employees is as difficult as finding a suitable job. District Administration has searched across Canada for the last two years attempting to engage with an engineering technologist eager and able to put down roots in Chetwynd.
With approximately 26 engineering technologist positions open in British Columbia’s municipalities as you read, drawing one of the few seekers to Chetwynd is not an east pull as we have to compete with southern municipalities where most of them live. As we approach the construction season again, Administration is continuing its heroic efforts to recruit the elusive engineering technologist.
Successfully running a vigorous community like Chetwynd is challenging at best, besides being great fun. And it is not just the public sector that struggles to recruit staff. Local industries and businesses are in the same daily struggle. Skilled trades people are in high demand across the north and, if we experience the industrial growth that is anticipated over the next five to ten years, we will definitely stay in the job-seeker’s market.
But we don’t need to wait five years to feel the increasing pressure on the pool of skilled trades. With the pulp mill apparently opening soon, with the sawmills running at full capacity, with the projected opening of the West Fraser bioenergy plant, with the ongoing opportunities in gas and coal, all added to the normal needs of the community, the pool of electricians, pipe fitters, welders, and other highly skilled trades will be sorely pressed to supply the need.
So I have a word for you young men and women who are contemplating your futures: get your high school graduation; master your math, English, and sciences; develop a work ethic that will astonish your parents beyond belief – and do it while you are still in HS. It’s not that hard. It takes vision, commitment, and a will to work. The future is yours and the future is now.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor