Suncor luring New Brunswick workers to oilsands2/28/2013
A large Canadian energy company is in Saint John this week hoping to lure skilled trades people to work in the Alberta oilsands.
Suncor Energy held a similar job fair in Fredericton last November, where it tried to recruit workers to its oil sands operation.
Sarah Lockwood, a Suncor recruiter, said the energy company is now in Saint John with about 150 jobs to fill, primarily at their facility in Fort McMurray.
She said there are many people in New Brunswick who have skills that would make them ideal candidates for work in Alberta.
“There's a lot of industries that are very transferrable to us — pulp and paper, refinery obviously,” she said.
“Those are people that can easily fit in to our company."
Lockwood said the company wants Red Seal tradespeople, like plumbers and electricians. The Red Seal designation allows tradespeople to work in any province or territory without writing additional licensing examinations.
The company is using social media to lure people to the Saint John job fair.
"We actually contact a lot of people on LinkedIn and invite them here to talk with us,” Lockwood said.
Whether it was social media or the promise of a job, many people turned out to the Suncor event on Wednesday.
Corey Johnston was working at a metal and steel warehouse until he was laid off last Friday.
He said he is now ready to move to western Canada to find work.
"There's no work in Saint John, and I can't just sit home,” he said.
Dale McCray, who came to the job fair from Charlotte County, said he’s been looking for work since the summer.
"I worked on oil rigs for a number of years and I've done quite a bit of construction, so hopefully between those two trades something opens up for me,” he said.
Colin Grasse, a journeyman plumber, said he is also ready to leave the province because of his inability to land full-time work in New Brunswick.
"I've been in the trade for 10 years now and have maybe worked five out of the 10," he said.
New Brunswick’s unemployment rate has held stubbornly over 10 per cent since last summer.
The unemployment rate jumped to 11.3 per cent in January.
The jobless rate in southern New Brunswick is slightly lower than the provincial rate.
In Saint John, the unemployment held firm at 9.9 per cent in January and it was 10.7 per cent in the St. Stephen-Saint John region, according to Statistics Canada.