Addressing labour force needs in the construction industry

News release

Pilot program will introduce heavy equipment operating skills to high school students

October 21, 2022 · Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island · Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

New and well-maintained transportation infrastructure is essential for Prince Edward Island’s growing population and economy. To keep up with these demands, PEI’s rapidly expanding heavy construction industry is working to attract more workers with knowledge of the industry and up-to-date skills. The Government of Canada is committed to working with industry to develop a skilled workforce and build a strong, resilient future for all.

Supporting sustainable growth in the construction industry

Today, Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, announced a contribution of $43,077 to the Prince Edward Island Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA.

The Province of Prince Edward Island is providing grants totalling $25,000 to support the project.

The investment will help the association purchase a heavy equipment simulator as part of its work with the PEI Department of Education on the Youth Transition Program pilot. This program will expose high school students to opportunities in heavy construction and provide a path to become professionals in the industry. The purchase of the virtual training simulator will allow students to complete realistic, cost-effective training modules, promote careers in the sector and help address a growing labor shortage.

The Government of Canada is making investments that help businesses, organizations and training institutions work together to build a skilled workforce. Today’s announcement further demonstrates the government’s commitment to ensuring the Atlantic Canadian workforce has the skills it needs to thrive, grow, and compete.


“Through ACOA, the Government of Canada is working directly with industry to understand and address its needs. Training initiatives like this introduce youth to valuable skills and new career paths that allow them to stay and contribute to growing sectors here in Atlantic Canada.”

-   The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA.

“Innovative educational opportunities like this are born out of direct collaboration between industry professionals and forward-thinking educational experts. I’m thrilled that our government is making strategic investments that will strengthen our vital industries and provide access to in-demand career opportunities.”

-  Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown

“To prepare for a strong workforce for the future, we need to invest in our youth today. This pilot program is providing Island students with lifelike and memorable training opportunities while developing skills that can lead to fulfilling and rewarding careers in the heavy construction industry.” 

- The Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture for the Government of Prince Edward Island 

“Our industry is facing a labour shortage here on PEI and across the country, and the call for skilled laborers is increasing across the board. Our Association is extremely happy to partner with the Department of Education on the youth transition pilot program, Essential Skills Achievement Pathway (ESAP). Through exposure and education, we hope to attract youth to our industry.  We are excited for the future of our Industry and growing with the ESAP program” 

-  Melissa Paquet, Executive Director, PEI Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association

Quick facts

  • The Prince Edward Island Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association is a non-profit organization made up of industry members, located in Charlottetown. It was incorporated in 1962.

  • The purchased training simulator is the Vortex Edge Max, which replicates the feel of real heavy construction equipment. It has smart training technology software that allows users to progress through modules of various degrees of difficulty for 10 different machines, including cranes and earthmovers.

  • The pilot has recently launched at Montague Regional High School and Colonel Gray High School for the 2022-2023 school year and will expand to the other eight public high schools the following year.

  • The Province of PEI is providing grants of $15,000 through Innovation PEI and $10,000 through the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Associated links


Marianne Blondin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Official Languages and of the
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mike Critchley
Senior Communications Advisor
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Hillary MacDonald
Senior Communications Officer
Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture

Melissa Paquet
Executive Director
PEI Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association

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