The Northwest Community College School of Exploration and Mining expanded its entry-level training courses to communities devastated by the infestation of the Mountain Pine Beetle under this project. The minerals industry has been identified as one of the best diversification options in northwest British Columbia. Several initiatives are already underway to lay the groundwork for more targeted exploration programs, however, exploration companies require workers who know the basics of mineral exploration and how to work safely in the field.
In 2008, the School of Mining and Exploration expanded its programs to offer two Mining Exploration Field Assistant courses in its bush camp classrooms in the Fort St. James and Houston areas. The courses were taught outdoors in a remote tent camp setting, just as students would conduct work in once they graduate. The course develops students' field skills such as GPS, sampling and grid layout. Safety training covers a variety of topics including helicopter safety, bear awareness, and wilderness survival. The School of Mining and Exploration has also assembled a mobile first aid training and safety unit that can travel to very remote communities within the Mountain Pine Beetle affected region to offer first aid training. The school's courses have a proven track record in providing field-ready workers to the exploration industry.
The School of Exploration and Mining received a $100,000 grant from Northern Development's Pine Beetle Recovery Account for the Mining Exploration Field Assistant field camps and mobile first aid training and safety unit. The grant was used to purchase a cube van to transport the mobile first aid training and safety unit's training equipment and to purchase a bus to transport students to the school's bush camps and on field trips.
"The School of Exploration and Mining's new mobile safety training unit enables our program to bring training to students instead of them having to come to us. In many cases, that means the difference between whether students actually achieve the certifications they need for potential employment, a current job, or to boost their resume."
Margo Van der Touw, Dean of Trades, Northwest Community College
"The Northwest Community College's School of Exploration and Mining is filling an essential niche in the mine development cycle in northwest British Columbia."
Michael McPhie, former President, Mining Association of British Columbia
Positive Economic Impacts in Central and Northern BC
The exploration and mining industry is an important opportunity to diversify the region's economy and create jobs within the region. Since its inception in 2004, Northwest Community College's School of Exploration and Mining has taken a leadership role in providing training for the minerals industry workforce in northern BC communities. Between 2005 and 2010 more than four hundred BC students successfully completed the Mining Exploration Field Assistant course. Of these approximately seventy-eight percent of students found work or returned to school and over seventy-five percent were of First Nations or Metis heritage.
The implementation of the School of Mining and Exploration's mobile training courses created 'field-ready' workers for the mining industry and allowed local residents to become employed in the growing exploration and mining sector. Between 2009 and 2010, the Mobile Safety Training Unit and the Mobile Exploration Training Camps employed twelve seasonal workers. In 2010, the mobile safety training unit delivered eighteen first aid and safety training courses to two hundred forty-five students in remote communities and the mobile camp course was taken by twenty-three students. Students who completed the mobile Mining Exploration Field Assistant course were successful in finding employment within the minerals and resource industry.
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