On February 22, The Chronicle Herald published an article suggesting Irving Shipbuilding is hiring outside of Canada for positions at our Halifax Shipyard that could be filled by Canadians. This suggestion is false.
More than 96% of Irving Shipbuilding’s 1,500 person workforce is Canadian and we continue to actively recruit Canadians first – this is a central pillar to our recruitment strategy. Because Canada has not had a naval new build program in place for almost 25 years, some specific shipbuilding expertise does not exist in Canada or we have exhausted efforts to recruit Canadians for certain positions. Under these exceptional circumstances, skilled workers need to be sought internationally.
International talent at Irving Shipbuilding are mainly brought through the extremely rigorous process of the LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) process in which we must demonstrate that we have actively tried to fill positions in Canada first. Many of these individuals intend to eventually become permanent residents or Canadian citizens and will contribute greatly to increasing the shipbuilding knowledge, experience and expertise of our current workforce. Indeed, any number of Canadian industries occasionally are forced to hire abroad when domestic talent just cannot be sourced.
As the Canadian shipbuilding industry continues to mature, we will need to bring in individuals for skilled positions with experience in complex shipbuilding projects to augment our largely Canadian team. This helps to transfer knowledge, build efficiencies and overall deliver the best value ships for Canada.
Importantly, we are busily growing and training the next generation of Canadian shipbuilders. Irving Shipbuilding currently has over 300 apprentices at the Halifax Shipyard learning various shipbuilding skills and we are continually investing in training programs. Pairing our experienced and skilled workers alongside apprentices helps to increase the shipbuilding talent and capacity in Canada for the long term.
In terms of subcontracting work, the same rules with respect to non-Canadian individuals still applies. Where there isn’t a long term need for specific work, it makes good sense to subcontract.
In this case of the work contracted out to Gabadi, a Spanish company that manufactures and installs interior furnishings which was highlighted in the Chronicle Herald article, the specialist skill required for the peak periods followed by periods of no work make it difficult to train and retain skilled workers permanently. It is normal for world class shipyards in both Europe and the United States to subcontract this type of work, specifically due to the uneven activity levels. We explained our reasoning in this case to our union last year and were pleased to come to an agreement that was approved by all parties.
At Irving Shipbuilding, we take our role and responsibility as Canada’s combatant shipbuilder seriously. We look forward to not only delivering high-quality ships to our men and women in uniform, but also creating a sustainable and vibrant shipbuilding and marine industry in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada.
For updates on employment opportunities, our progress, and Canada-wide impact visit www.ShipsforCanada.ca or follow us @IrvingShipbuild