Premier Christy Clark was at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus Friday to announce $1.6 million for skills training programs in Williams Lake, Kamloops, Clearwater and 100 Mile House.
In Williams Lake TRU will receive $600,000 to offer an entry level logging truck driving training. Classes will begin this in May.
The remaining $1 million will go toward heavy equipment operator training for forest harvesting and logging production sites, with classes offered in 100 Mile House and Kamloops and heavy equipment operator training for mining, road building and construction, with classes offered in Kamloops and Clearwater.
“We have to make sure there are skilled workers to take jobs on and I believe in a province as rich as this one, we can do more than make sure there are skilled workers to fill those jobs. We can make sure that people are able to find jobs and training positions in communities where they live,” Clark said.
Having access to training in places like TRU are steps in meeting the growing demand of industries such as forestry and mining, she added.
The funding will provide tuition-free, group-based training for people who are presently unemployed, not on EI, or who are employed, but low-skilled workers.
Clark said forestry and mining don’t just fill lunch kits in Williams Lake, Prince George, Tumbler Ridge, and Prince Rupert.
“They fill lunch kits in every single part of the province because we are all dependent on the resource economy of northern British Columbia to make Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Comox, you name it, to make every one of those communities tick. We need places like Williams Lake.”
Clark applauded the efforts of TRU Williams Lake Campus director Dr. Ray Sanders for his work with the Interior Logging Association and local industry on the logging truck driver program proposal.
“In the last three years as head of this institution, Ray has done so much to rebuild it into an institution that Williams Lake and British Columbia can be really proud of,” Clark said, adding Sanders’ plan to attract 300 foreign students to Williams Lake in the next three years is a sign of a visionary.
Cariboo Chilcotin Liberal MLA Donna Barnett said the funding announcement is good news that people in the region have been waiting for.
“We’ve been working hard over the years to make TRU a success in the region,” she said.