West Fraser Mills Ltd. and The Interior Logging Association (ILA) teamed up this year to train 16 new heavy duty equipment operators, and four log truck drivers for the forest industry in the Williams Lake area.
The initiative has been carried out in B.C. for the last four years, mainly in the southern part of the province. This is the first year that the entire program was conducted in the Williams Lake area and West Fraser harvesting supervisor Amanda Black helped deliver the program for the ILA this winter.
The classroom portion for the heavy duty equipment training was taught out of Williams Lake TRU campus, and the field training was conducted by logging contractors in the area.
The training initiative is part of West Fraser’s commitment to train and encourage new and young workers (with a special emphasis on engaging First Nations) to join the forest industry. We were encouraged to see the number of applicants, as over 60 applications were received, but there was only room for 16.
The students were placed with a logging contractor to complete 160 hours of field training on bunchers, skidders, processors, and loaders. They also received Safety, First Aid, and Environmental Management System (EMS) training along with other courses that will help them in their future careers in the forest industry.
The students worked extremely hard to learn and succeed at running the equipment they were trained on, and because of this, have received full time jobs in the forest industry with local logging contractors.
The other part of the program involves training new logging truck drivers, who are in short supply in the industry. Four students, who are currently in Kamloops doing Class 1 training with TRU, will return to the Cariboo Region to complete 160 hours in training in order to drive a logging truck. The students will be placed with and mentored by experienced logging truck drivers who have a demonstrated high commitment to good driving habits, and excellent driving track records.
We hope to create a culture of safe driving behaviors to keep the public and industry safe on the roads.
Due to the success of this year’s program, the ILA will look to source funding for more training in the Williams Lake area in the future. West Fraser has committed to assist the program by helping to support our logging and hauling contractors to train more heavy equipment operators and logging truck drivers.