Liard gears up for jobs

by Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

FORT LIARD (Nov 14/97) - Training for future opportunity. This is the buzz phrase currently all the rage in Fort Liard.

With oil and gas exploration going on around the community, the Liard Valley Band Development Corporation is working hard to ensure local residents are well prepared for the opportunities on the horizon.

"One of the problems were having was matching the employment opportunities with the right people," said Shane Parrish, general manager for the corporation during an interview earlier this week.

Next week, more than 35 people in Fort Liard will be beginning training. On Nov. 17, heavy equipment training will commence with Workplace Hazardous Material Information System and other H2S safety training starting up the next day.

This training will be provided by Precision Drilling of Calgary at no charge. All told, 91 people applied to take part in the programs.

And the development corporation has hired Peter Bertrand to serve as an employment and training co-ordinator. In this position, Bertrand will act as a go-between with the workforce and industry.

The position was funded by Ocelot Energy, Paramount Resources, Unocal Canada, Berkely Petroleum and Amoco, as well as the LVBDC.

"This position is very important because a skilled labor market is needed here," Bertrand said Monday. "Last year, there were some shortages and we're hoping to prevent that this year and we'll have a lot more qualified Northern workers to work in the oil fields in the long run."

Exploration usually runs between November and March. But Bertrand said some work, particularly in the mountains, goes on in the summer.

In the future, Parrish says, people all across the Deh Cho will have the chance to benefit from the work being done around Fort Liard.

"The opportunities are going to be more than we can handle and we'll be looking to the other communities," he said.