How to embark on a shipbuilding career in Canada

In 2010, the Canadian government committed to create jobs and equip the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard with much-needed vessels in a project that will span over two decades, creating or maintaining up to 5,500 jobs per year.

As progress continues on designing and constructing vessels for the National Shipbuilding Strategy and with no signs of the recruitment drive slowing down, Louise Lees, Maritime Recruitment Specialist at Matchtech, shares how to embark on a shipbuilding career in Canada and the skills employers in this industry are looking for.


What educational background do employers expect candidates to have?

For shipbuilding roles in Canada, engineers across the globe must have a degree because they won’t get the ’Engineer’ title without one. It is also preferable for managers and more senior candidates to have a degree but this isn’t always a deal breaker; sometimes experience will overrule education.

For supervisors, more often than not, they would have come from an apprenticeship route and worked their way up through a trades programme, for example, from a fitter to a foreman, a chargehand and then into a supervisor role.


What sort of traits do employers look for in the shipbuilders they hire?

Charisma and a bit of personality; employers like to be able to have good, honest and frank conversations with prospective candidates at interview to see if they’ll be able to get along with them in the workplace. On a project like the Canadian National Shipbuilding Strategy, you’re likely to work with people from a range of different backgrounds and nationalities so it’s important that you enjoy working in a diverse environment. 

Problem solving is a natural trait of engineers who work in shipbuilding, as well as attention to detail. Quite often engineers will be working against the clock to make sure that each deadline is met and that the quality is of the highest standard. Having strong communication skills and the ability to hold conversations with their team members as well as key stakeholders and customers is also a trait employers will expect shipbuilders to have.


What experience do employers expect candidates to have?

For most positions, experience working on a similar project in a similar role is vital regardless of the country you’ve gained experience in; you’ll need to know how to build a ship from scratch and how to manage the build process. Only those that have this experience will be able to help solve problems and issues when they arise, and also minimise the risk of the same mistakes happening again.


How easy is it to relocate to Canada?

Easier than you would think. We work with companies who offer very attractive relocation packages, which cover a range of needs from private medical insurance for the family to getting flights secured for your pet dog. We’ve been helping maritime professionals from around the world make the move to Canada for years, including English speaking maritime professionals from Romania, Australia, Poland and the UK.


What are the schooling options for those making the move to Canada with their children?

Understandably, people often worry about schooling for their children and the cost of living in another country. A large proportion of the shipbuilding recruitment we do in Canada is in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the schooling there is fantastic. It has the largest selection of education options in Atlantic Canada with more than 130 primary and secondary public schools, three community colleges and six universities, as well as a number of private schooling options. We understand it can be a big decision to uproot your family and move abroad but we can guide you through the process to give you and your family the best start to your new life in Canada.


What is the cost of living like in Canada?

The attractive salaries reflect the cost of living in Canada so it’s important to understand how your financial situation might change when you make the move. Should you be offered a role, we can put you in touch with a financial advice company who can go through what your income will look like after the deductions of tax and living costs. They can also discuss with you about the tax you might be subject to back home if you were to keep your house or pension.


If you need more convincing on why Canada is a great place to live and work, you might like to read this article.

Take a look at the current opportunities to work on the Canadian National Shipbuilding Strategy here.

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