Recruiting for Tomorrow’s Waterfront
The movement of goods from the shore to a ship is unique in its demands on equipment, as well as on the men and women who operate that equipment.
Twenty years ago, most of the goods were moved off and onto ships using heavy physical labour or very rudimentary mechanical devices. At BCMEA member terminals today, much of the work is done by equipment built specifically for waterfront operations; it is a highly mechanized and, in many cases, highly computerized workplace. To meet the demands of this complex waterfront environment, BCMEA member companies employ a workforce that is highly skilled in a variety of operations.
All new workers start on an on-call basis, but the work is flexible, much of it is outdoors, and it has a high starting wage. All employees start in labour positions, but they can quickly move up to operating equipment. In fact, 55% of jobs dispatched by the BCMEA are as equipment operators, not labourers. So the potential to move into equipment operation and inventory control is very high. The BCMEA’s on-the-job training ensures that if they stay in the industry, new employees can become very highly skilled operators on any number of different pieces of equipment.
Equipment and computers aren’t the only things changing on the waterfront. Currently, women make up about 8 percent of the workforce. The BCMEA wants to improve upon that, increasing it to between 18 and 20 percent.
The future on the waterfront includes more technology, more mobile equipment, and more complex computer operations. The BCMEA is always recruiting for those skill sets. We may not use them today, but we will certainly use them tomorrow.