There couldn’t be a better time to pursue a career in BC’s burgeoning shipbuilding sector. Annual revenues in the BC shipbuilding and repair industry are projected to climb from an average of $265 million (2004-2010) to more than $1.4 billion by 2018, according to BCShippingNews.
At least 2,000 new direct jobs and 2,500 indirect jobs are expected to be created by 2020.
Seaspan Marine is gearing up for a significant increase in trades positions. The exciting news came in 2011, when Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards was selected to build four noncombat ships for Canada: offshore fishery science vessel, offshore oceanographic science vessel, joint support ship, and polar ice breaker. In 2013, the government announced two additional Seaspan projects: offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and medium endurance multi-task vessels (MEMTVs).
“Since the 2011 announcement we have been working with the government on the design for the fishery science vessel and investing in our facilities in North Vancouver and Victoria, building new facilities, buying equipment, putting in place new processes and building the team,” says John Shaw, VP Government Relations and Business Development at Seaspan.
Shaw says Seaspan has hired all senior management and technical staff. The company is currently hiring engineers and production managers—“those people that have experience in building ships”—and in eight months will begin filling trades positions.
“We will be completing the design for the fishery vessel this year and are looking at starting construction in the fourth quarter. We’ll have the first uptake in trades work in October,” Shaw says. “Over the year, we expect, with the building of the offshore fishery science vessel, that our production workforce would grow to between 250 and 350 people.”
That means hiring about 50 to 100 new tradespeople in the last quarter of 2014.
Production of the joint support ship is expected to start in late 2016. “And for that, we would see a ramp-up in the production workforce in late 2016 and into 2017 of up to 1,000 tradespeople.”
Shipbuilding trades include the following:
- Metal Fabrication
- Sheet Metal
All trades positions are filled through the respective unions. Anyone interested in becoming qualified to fill a trades position should contact the union for information and requirements.
Here are some links to Trade Unions to get you started:
- Marine & Shipbuilders Local 506 – representing Painters/Sandblasters, Welders, Shipfitters, Metal Fabricators, Crane Operators , Riggers, Joiners and General Labour. http://marineandshipbuilderslocal506.ca/
- International Association of Machinists Lodge 692 – representing Mechanics (Engine Fitters), Machinists http://www.ibew213.org/
- United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 170 – representing Pipefitters http://www.uacanada.ca/
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – IBEW Local 213 representing Electricians http://www.ibew213.org/
- Marine Workers & Boilermakers Industrial Union – Local 1 representing Welders, Shipfitters, Painters/Sandblasters, General Labour http://www.marineworkers.ca
High-school students who are interested in trade certification will need to enter an apprenticeship program and should contact the union for information. Some trades require completion of a certificate program before becoming an apprentice. For example, Steamfitters have to complete the Pipefitter Foundations Certificate at an accredited learning institution prior to the apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are generally four or five years, depending on the trade.
Shaw says it is also possible to do an apprenticeship through Seaspan. “It’s something we are currently doing, but the volume will pick up as we move into 2015 and 2016.”
He notes that Seaspan apprentices still have to go through the unions for hiring. “We can train tradespeople, but they then go on to the union seniority list and then we hire through the unions.”
For information on apprenticeships, click here: http://www.seaspan.com/career-path-apprenticeship/
Shaw has this advice for high-school students thinking about a trades career: “First, talk to your high-school counsellor. The high-school counsellor should have information on trades training and the process necessary to do that.”
Here are some links to help you get started on your career
- High school students can get credit towards the first year of their apprenticeship. You can learn more about the Industry Training Authority youth programs (ACE IT and SSA) here: http://www.itabc.ca/youth-trades/programs
- Visit the Seaspan career website http://www.seaspan.com/careers/#
- Visit the Red Seal Website to find out more about the trade you are interested in: http://www.red-seal.ca/s.2.1rch@-eng.jsp
- The Resource Training Organization (RTO) website links to programs and training providers: http://www.rtobc.com/site7.aspx
- TradesWomen.ca offers career knowledge and apprenticeship information for women interested in the trades: http://tradeswomen.ca/
- Trades Rock offers insight into the Shipbuilding and Repair industry and the jobs involved: http://www.tradesrock.com/shipping.php
Accredited Learning Institutions provide the classroom courses and training segment of apprenticeship programs. See what’s involved in the classroom side of apprenticeship by following the links to the trade for program schedules, course outline, hours and schedules. Enrolment is subject to acceptance into an apprentice program.
- British Columbia Institute of Technology (Vancouver) http://www.bcit.ca/apprenticeship/
- Camosun College (Victoria) http://camosun.ca/learn/programs/apprenticeship/
- Finishing Trades Institute of British Columbia (Surrey) http://camosun.ca/learn/programs/apprenticeship/