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Bombardier hiring spree is signal of aerospace industry future for young

Last Updated Nov 17, 2017 at 12:20 pm PST

Bombardier President and CEO Alain Bellemare, smiles as he walks through global express finishing plant in Montreal on Friday Nov. 17, 2017. Bombardier confirmed this morning that it will hire about 1,000 workers over the next 18 months for its new Global 7000 business jets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

POINTE-CLAIRE, Que. – Bombardier Inc.’s hiring of about 1,000 workers for its new business jet is a signal to young people that the aerospace industry is attractive despite waves of layoffs in recent years, chief executive Alain Bellemare said Friday.

“You go through cycles, but in a sense there’s always a very strong stable base of employment,” Bellemare said at the opening of its new interior completion centre.

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) confirmed it is hiring about 1,000 workers over the next 18 months to complete the interiors of the Global 7000 which is scheduled to enter into service late next year.

The company will hold a job fair next Friday at its main aerospace campus in Montreal.

The hiring follows mass layoffs in recent years by the company as part of a five-year turnaround plan to regain its financial footing. It eliminated 14,500 positions around the world in its aerospace and railway divisions.

Bellemare said it will be challenging to fill the skilled vacancies for its largest business jet that can fly non-stop between Montreal and Dubai. The plane is sold out until 2021.

He said finding talented people is never easy, but he’s encouraged by Quebec’s strong economy and the high number of training schools in the region.

Aero Montreal, which promotes the city’s aerospace industry, said 31,681 positions will need to be filled within the next 10 years including 8,816 newly created positions and 22,865 positions resulting mainly from retirements.

Quebec Economy and Innovation Minister Dominique Anglade said finding skilled workers is the most important economic challenge facing the provincial economy which is experiencing record low unemployment.

“It is a good problem to have,” she told reporters.

Bombardier Business Aerospace employs about 5,500 people in the Greater Montreal area. Thousands more work on assembling the new C Series jet.

At its peak, the Global 7000 is expected to employ more than 2,500 workers, including nearly 1,700 in Montreal and 800 at the final assembly line in Toronto.

In conjunction with the hiring, Bombardier will transfer work on the Global 5000 jet to its facility in Wichita, Kan., but Bellemare said no jobs will lost in Montreal due to the transfer of work done by about 200 people.

David Coleal, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said extra space is needed because the Global 7000 is 15 per cent larger than the Global 6000 that is also finished in Montreal.

Renaud Gagne, Quebec director of Unifor, said the transfer of jobs to the United States is a downside to what is otherwise great news.

“But the (Global 5000) doesn’t have as long a future so it’s preferable to continue with the 6000 and 7000,” he said in an interview.

Workers were unhappy following the cuts of the past couple of years, but he expects about 100 laid-off workers will be recalled.