Shawn Bjornson

This is what pipelines can do for young Canadians

They say the modern economy is tough for young people. More and more parents are worried how their kids will make a living. More and more youth don’t see a bright future – they see a storm cloud. They see no direction forward and no sense of what awaits them on the other end of the road.

I don’t blame them. It’s getting harder and harder to find a job that pays a good wage for a hard day’s work. We need more opportunities for our young people. Pipelines can create those opportunities. I’m a perfect example of that. I found a job that pays a good wage for a hard day’s work – I’m an operating engineer, and for the past eight years, I’ve made my living working pipeline projects.

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My dad was a heavy equipment mechanic. That’s how I started running equipment – it was my dad who inspired me to pursue this career. I built roads for many years in Manitoba, but when a new pipeline project was coming through, it meant new opportunities for guys like me. I went to the union and asked them to put me on the pipeline project. I’ve never looked back since.

I’ve worked on quite a few pipelines since then, in a relatively short time. I like working on pipelines. I especially like the people I work with – we’ve been on many projects together. You build camaraderie from that.

The money is good. You can take time between jobs, spending moments with your family. I have two kids myself, a 3-year old and an 11-year old. I’ll never forget the time my 11-year old visited our work site, and showing him what dad does for a living. That’s what makes it worth it in the end: family. That and knowing that the pipelines we build are safe for the communities around them – including for our own families.

Pipeline work is a great opportunity for young people looking for a good career. More young people should get more of those opportunities. They’re ready to work, and they deserve to work. I hope they get the chance too.

Shawn Bjornson is an operating engineer from Selkirk, Manitoba. He is a heavy equipment operator that got his start in pipeline construction in 2008, with Local 987. He has worked on pipelines across Canada.

Shawn Bjornson