Province, USW roll out up-skilling program

A new training program will help northern B.C. workers, particularly those who want to get jobs or promotions in mining and forestry jobs.

MLA Pat Bell

Workers in a large area of northern B.C. can soon apply for a new skills training program offered by the BC Liberals and the United Steel Workers Union.

The program targets mining and forestry workers, and is eligible to people living from Smithers to McBride, and from Hixon up to Chetwynd.

Applicants do not have to be members of the USW.

“It’s really an up-skilling program,” said MLA Pat Bell, minister of Jobs Tourism and Innovation.

With $2.9 million in provincial funding, the 18-month project will be overseen by the USW because it ran a similar program to help retrain workers who lost their jobs when mines and other workplaces closed at the beginning of the economic downturn.

“At that time the USW went into areas and talked to workers, assessing them,” Bell said. “It was an incredible success and a model for everyone during tough economic times. Now times have changed. We’re looking at a robust economy and our next big challenge is to create a workforce to fill all those high-paying jobs.”

The project will give workers access to a variety of training, either to get their Dogwood high school diploma, or upgrade specific courses, or gain the certificates and apprenticeships they need to be promoted into more highly paying positions.

“It’s tailored to each individual,” said Terry Tate, the USW program coordinator. “There’s no canned program.”

Tate said the USW plans to roll out the program sometime after November. In the previous program, the USW expected to retrain just 250 workers, but 630 signed on, he said.

Tate said that based on past experience, the USW will run the program through local service providers, from colleges to private institutions.

“You receive a much better response by dealing with people who are already providing a service and who know the people in the different areas,” he said. “It’s much easier to deliver, and gets a much better response from participants.”

Both unemployed and underemployed workers can apply, Tate added, and workers don’t have to be in mining or forestry already to sign on. For example,  he said that someone who wants to move from a retail to a sawmill job but needs certain certificates first could join the program.

Asked why northern B.C. has a skilled trades shortage, Tate said it is partly because many local workers have moved to big-dollar projects in places like Fort McMurray, Alberta.

“Those people would like an opportunity to come back home,” he added.

Tate also said the program will help companies retain workers in the future, as big projects like the Mt. Milligan mine are expected to draw workers away from other mining and forestry operations in the area.

Tailoring the program to meet individual needs is tougher now that so many operations run shifts 24 hours a day, he said, but it can work.

“It’s not that people don’t want the training,” Tate said. “It’s just that you have to adapt to their conditions, their lifestyle, their shifting to accommodate them. They’re more than happy to excel.”

 

Just Posted

Mill undergoing four-week shutdown

Canfor closing other mills as well

Fish ban plan on ice for now

Bulkley, Morice closures were on the table

Club buys mountain bikes for community use

Exercise and club growth are twin goals

Cut stumpage, keep people working, says Rustad

Reducing the carbon tax and stumpage fees might help out struggling forestry… Continue reading

Treasure hunt promoting tourism in Houston

Been driving too long, need to stretch your legs? Well Houston offers… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at B.C. school

Students in Maple Ridge reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Most Read