Bombardier Aerospace’s proposed CSeries aircraft, to be launched as soon as it gets enough orders, could be compromised by a lack of qualified aerospace workers, industry observers said Wednesday.
An association that oversees manpower in the sector in Quebec, where about half of Canada’s aerospace industry is concentrated, said the four main industry leaders, including Bombardier, need to fill 3,666 positions during the coming year, not counting small-and medium-sized businesses.
Besides Bombardier Aerospace, the third-largest aircraft maker in the world, the other three main aerospace employers in Quebec are CAE Inc., Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Bell Helicopter Textron.
Some 1,900 jobs are already available and not filled, said Serge Tremblay, director general of the manpower association.
Several small business owners who came to an industry meeting Wednesday said the launch of the new aircraft by Bombardier would complicate things for the smaller subcontractors to major players, because they can’t offer the same salaries as a multinational, they said.
The CSeries project would create some 5,000 jobs over several years.
“Obviously we’d hope that it would get off the ground, but it’s going to give us all headaches,” said Gilles Demers, vice-president at aircraft components maker Mecachrome Canada.
Among the jobs most in demand are machinists, riggers, technicians, airframe mechanics, designers, and aerospace and electrical engineers.
“We’re talking about very well paid jobs,” Tremblay said.
Tremblay said an aircraft rigger with a junior college diploma and four years of experience can earn up to $60,000.
Even at these rates, candidates are rare.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the public perception is that aviation and the aerospace industries are struggling. As a result, young people are not heading into those careers
A Montreal aerospace technical college currently has 400 students compared with 1,200 in 2000.
The director of the school said each graduate last year had three job offers.
While the industry did go through a slow period, it has resumed growing, said the association. Aerospace now employs 42,509 people in Quebec, or one worker out of 20. Across Canada, it employs more than 80,000.