There are 10 new qualified school bus drivers in the Cariboo-Chilcotin thanks to training at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake.
Amidst laughter and camaraderie, students and instructors of the TRU School Bus Driver Program enjoyed a graduation celebration last Friday.
Made possible through $112,000 of provincial and federal funding from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, and a partnership with School District 27, the program was very intense, said TRU’s continuing studies manager Julie Bowser.
The idea for the program came from Randy Cobb, assistant manager of facilities and transportation for SD27, who said it was necessary because there is a shortage of school bus drivers in the region, Bowser said.
Course instructor Robert Goss described the students as a lively group with a broad range of experience who tackled the course excellently.
He praised the fact they came from all over the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
“One of the cool things is, Ron Setah is fluent in Tsilhqot’in so when he’s going to be working out west and talking with the kids, he is going to be conversing with them in Tsilhqot’in.”
The students also worked collaboratively to put together a bus safety colouring book, Goss said, noting they did a good job.
“I want to acknowledge that Jacquie LaFlamme did the layout, but it was a collaborative effort,” he added.
Offering her congratulations, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development MLA Donna Barnett said it is a good thing the province has gone out to communities to ask what job training is needed.
“It’s taken many many years for government to realize it is no sense training people if there are no jobs when they finish,” Barnett said. “This program is exciting and it’s one that probably would not have happened if it wasn’t for Randy.”
Before presenting gifts to Goss on behalf of the class, LaFlamme said taking the program was the most wonderful thing she had ever done.
“What they have taught us really is very valuable,” LaFlamme said.
Instructor Robert Goss holds up a bus, one of the gifts presented to him from the students.
Goss and the graduates also acknowledged the efforts of Randy Cobb, Terry Smith and Wayne Field from SD27 and Robert Chamberlin from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure who helped with the course instruction.