Secondary students in the Cariboo are now able to undertake a secondary school apprenticeship at the Mount Polley Mine through a pilot program, announced this fall by Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas Rich Coleman.
The project, which is endorsed by the BC Mining HR Task Force and School District #27 Cariboo Chilcotin is hoping to address the issues of an aging workforce and related skill shortages.
“The skills shortage in mining is a challenge for industry today,” said Coleman, in the press release.
“This program will help to solve these shortages in a very innovative manner by working directly with our schools. Mining can provide an excellent opportunity for all British Columbians who want to contribute to their communities and be a part of B.C.’s historical mining industry and its bright future.”
The BC Mining HR Taskforce is encouraged by the initiation of innovative recruitment and training plans for young people in high-school, career-preparation programs and stresses that these programs are more important than ever.
The program started in June 2012 and will be completed in June 2013.
An agreement was reached with Mount Polley Mine and, as a result, students and their trade area were identified from the district’s programs.
Several mining-related trades and their students were available for the pilot and entered into employment with the mine.
The goal of this training model is to ensure the successful outcome for both student and employer. With its completion and success, the training model can be used by other mining companies and school districts in other regions of British Columbia.
“Mount Polley Mines has been the greatest of industry partners that we work with and that assists us on a number of skilled trades related projects year after year,” said Gord Armour chair of the Education and Training Committee, Mining HR Task Force. “The district (School District 27) would not be able to offer the career information and opportunities in the mining industry without their strong support for education.”
Tim Fisch, general manager, Mount Polley Mining Corporation is equally pleased with the program.
“Mount Polley Mining Corporation is pleased to participate in this innovative program, which will provide the youth in our region the skills necessary to take advantage of high-paying job opportunities in our industry immediately upon completion of their secondary education,” Fisch said.
“The program affords safe, practical training under the guidance of qualified industry professionals and allows our company to fill the void of job vacancies while insuring our communities are strengthened through local hirings.
“The program would not be possible without the co-operation of industry, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas and School District #27, and we would like to thank all the participants, particularly Mr. Gordon Amour, for their hard work and efforts in this successful initiative.”
David Bazowski, chair of the BC Mining HR Task Force, said: “This is a great example of a collaborative effort by industry working with educators to create a pathway for our youth to become aware of and enter the trades at an early stage if they so choose.”
Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin added: “Apprenticeships like this one give students the chance to learn real skills, which will help them in their career path, while at the same time addressing the skills shortage we have in mining.
“I’m very happy to see collaborative projects such as this one where both the students and the industry benefit.”
The Secondary School Apprenticeship Program (SSA) is offered by School District #27 with the endorsement of the BC Industry Training Authority and the Ministry of Education.
This dual-credit program provides credit for four courses (a total of sixteen credits) towards the high-school graduation certificate and is also recognized for hours towards work-based training with an employer under the tenants of an apprenticeship contract.
Secondary School Apprenticeship is regulated like any regular apprenticeship.
The main difference being that a student can receive secondary school credit. The first 480 hours can be applied to four courses (SSA 11A, SSA 11B, SSA12A, SSA 12B) towards graduation.
The BC Mining HR Task Force’s interim report on the project is available at: www.acareerinminingbc.ca/educators