Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Training equals jobs

David Ryan
Northern News Services

Fort Smith (May 08/06) - Northerners are looking at mine training programs for future jobs.

The mineral processing operator training program developed by Diavik Diamond Mines and Aurora College is one such course, and has already born fruit.

The course, which was held from June to November of 2005 at Thebacha College in Fort Smith, graduated 13 students.

"It pretty much opened the doors for me," said Lance Beaulieu, a graduate of the program.

Beaulieu has now been employed at the Diavik diamond mine for the last four months as a mineral processing operator.

Beaulieu said he gained valuable experience in the classroom sessions as well as at training at Diavik.

"It was a great course. It helped me to get where I am today," said Beaulieu.

The program allows students to gain skills that will give them confidence in the workforce, said Tom Hoefer, spokesperson for Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.

"This program gives them a leg up on what mineral processing is all about," said Hoefer.

Graduates of the program are able to pick up skills quicker and it could mean promotions down the line, said Hoefer.

Diavik helped to develop the six-month program at Aurora College in order to have more qualified workers ready to work in mineral processing at diamond mines in the North.

A partnership between Diavik, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, the North Slave Metis Alliance and the Mine Training Society helped to make the course a reality at Aurora College.

An occupational certification program for mineral processing had already been developed by industry leaders in the mining sector, said Kerry Robinson, manager of program development at Aurora College.

The program was created around those occupational certification standards, said Robinson.

It would normally take four years to get certification in mineral processing without any prior experience. Graduates of the mineral training program are able to use their training towards their certification, said Robinson.

Certification creates standards that allow employers to review skill sets, said Robinson.

"The workforce is very mobile. It's different than it was 20 years ago," said Robinson.

It is important for education and industry to continue to develop training programs and certification standards. We need to get more young Northerners involved in these programs, said Robinson.