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New skills program for mining sector hits pay dirt

Chuquicamata, Chile, site of the largest circumference and second deepest open pit copper mine in the world — Wikipedia photo.

While the wild days of the gold rush may be over, future miners are discovering there is still prosperity to be found in the West.

Supported by more than $1.6 million from the Province, this year the Workforce Exploration Skills Training (WEST) program will give 58 participants the skills and training they need to fill the jobs that mining companies are looking to fill around BC.

Over seven weeks, these participants will be on the ground at a mining training camp located outside Smithers, learning and developing their skills and becoming job-ready.

This camp-based training program has seen 80 per cent of graduates successfully – and quickly – move on to jobs in the province’s mining sector so they can continue to support their families and build BC’s communities.

About three-quarters of the participants in these mining programs are Aboriginal.

Delivered by Northwest Community College (NWCC), WEST offers hands-on and classroom instruction of the newest technologies used by industry, including a First Nations cultural component.

Training includes drill core technician and cultural resource assessment, as well as prospector basic training, mining exploration field assistant, and industry-related safety certification.

Opportunities are also available for some of these mining students to gain additional work experience and enhance their skills in a number of camp positions, such as mining camp services, cooking and administration.

 

Quick facts:

• Mining jobs are among the highest paid jobs in the resource sector, averaging over $110,000, including benefits.

• Approximately one-third of all participants in NWCC’s camp-based mining programs are female.

• In 2010, more than 28,400 people were employed in the mineral exploration and mining economy.

• According to B.C.’s Employment Outlook for Industry Groups 2007-2017, mining is one of the fastest growing employment sectors, with more than 7,100 job openings expected by 2017.

• 2010 estimates show mining in B.C. is a $7-billion industry, with more than 50 thriving industrial minerals mines and over 650 aggregate and industrial mineral pits and quarries.

 

Learn more:

• View camp life at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bp-vefkB7A

• For examples of skills training offered at NWCC’s school of exploration and mining, see examples of the skills training at: http://sem.nwcc.bc.ca/slideshow/SEM_Gallery.cfm 

• Skills for Growth is British Columbia’s labour market strategy, helping to ensure BC has the right people with the right skills to fill the over one million jobs that will be available by 2019. It can be viewed at: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/skills_for_growth/

• For an online list of all labour market programs and services open to British Columbians, visit: www.workbc.ca