(CNSNews.com) -- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and VetJobs.com announced this week a new employment initiative with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation in Alberta, Canada that could employ thousands of U.S. veterans to help build new infrastructure in Canada.
While the initiative had initially been misreported by some media as an opportunity for U.S. veterans to land jobs on the Canada-side of the Keystone XL pipeline – a project delayed in America by the Obama administration – many veterans were already on the short list for those potential jobs and could be hired if (or when) the pipeline is approved.
In the meantime, there is an expected shortfall of 114,000 jobs in Alberta over the next decade, and the arrangement among the VFW, VetJobs.com, and the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation should help to place thousands of Americans into those positions.
Ted Daywalt, founder and CEO of VetJobs.com told CNSNews.com, “On the [July 2] press release, that was a misunderstanding; I think somebody jumped the gun. The Edmonton Economic Development Corporation came to us for, was a shortage of labor, 114,000 people short over the next couple years in skill trades.”
“They have huge infrastructure projects going on and a bunch of industrial openings up there,” he said. “In the future, it will probably be, once the Keystone gets approved, but it’s not approved.”
He continued: “Just so you know where the Keystone thing came from, VetJobs.com originally talked to the companies that were going to be doing the Keystone project until it was canceled or postponed, depending upon how you look at it. We were getting commitments of up to 40 percent of the jobs; they were going to be trying to put veterans in to.”
Governmental approval for the Keystone XL pipeline -- in its fourth year of review -- was delayed in November 2011 by President Barack Obama until sometime in 2013, after the 2012 elections. The pipeline, built by TransCanada, would run from Alberta, Canada, down through the central part of the United States to several oil refining spots on the Gulf Coast. The project is estimated to create up to 20,000 American jobs and 118,000 spin-off jobs indirectly connected to the project.
According to the American Petroleum Institute, the pipeline would bring an extra 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries. Our crude imports from Canada could be 4 million barrels a day by 2020.
In an email to CNSNews.com, TransCanada Senior Communications Specialist Grady Semmens wrote that the company is "still awaiting a presidential permit for the project in the United States before proceeding with construction."
"Once we receive the necessary approvals, our Keystone XL and Gulf Coast Project pipeline projects will support the creation of at least 13,000 construction jobs -- work for pipefitters, welders, electricians, heavy equipment operators, and other skilled tradespeople in the United States," said Semmens.
“They [Edmunton Economic Development Corporation] wanted veterans because veterans would have the skill sets they are looking for,” said Daywalt. “They have put a bunch of jobs up on our site and they were kind enough to let us have an exclusive initially. The jobs haven’t been up 48 hours yet, and the traffic has been amazing.”
Daywalt emphasized how important these jobs are for members of the National Guard, who are not deployed throughout their time of service.
“The jobs are paying like 24-30 percent above what they would make here in the states,” said Daywalt. “On some of the jobs they can work there and work for like three weeks and come home a full week. Other jobs, they want you to move up there.”
“We see this as a great thing for our veterans that are looking for work,” he said. “They are used to working outside the U.S., it is something we do when we get deployed. This is pretty important for the members of our National Guard.”
“They have been called up some many times for employers to hire them, so a lot of people in the National Guard or the Federal Reserve look for contract jobs, and these are wonderful contract jobs, paying a lot of money with benefits,” he said. “So it’s a win-win-win for everybody involved and that’s why we started chasing it.”
According to a VFW press release, the skilled positions available currently for veterans in Canada are long term. Some require a move to Canada, other positions would only require commuting for several weeks and then returning home for a week. The positions available include journeyman pressure pipe welders, heavy equipment technicians, steamfitter-pipefitters, structural ironworkers, millwright, and carpenters/scaffolders.
“This is a great opportunity for veterans, transitioning military, National Guard and reservists, and their family members,” Daywalt said in the VFW press release.
“This is a fantastic opportunity and I’m proud of our affiliation with VetJobs,” said VFW National Commander Richard L. Denoyer, of Middleton, Mass.
“Helping thousands of veterans to get well-paying jobs in an important industry just further proves that no one does more for veterans than the VFW,” said Denoyer.
VetJobs.com reportedly averages more than 55,000 daily job postings by employers strictly wanting to hire veterans.