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Ready for the workforce
Drillers' program celebrates third graduation in Arviat

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, Nov 7, 2012

The Arviat Diamond Drillers' Training (ADDT) course celebrated the successful completion of its third program this past month.

NNSL photo/graphic

Eric Okatsiak and Ashton Kadjuk, right, practise handling water lines during the Arviat Diamond Drillers' Training program in Arviat this past month. - photo courtesy of Samantha Ussak

Ten students received their certificates on Oct. 26 for the program, which included both classroom and practical components on the hamlet's diamond drilling rig.

Several graduates have already been offered job interviews.

The course began with nine students from Arviat, two from Rankin Inlet and one from Coral Harbour.

Completing the program were Joshua Iblauk, Timothy Pilakapsi, Alex Gibbons, Eric Okatsiak, Ashton Kadjuk, Clarissa Ussak, Jordy Kidlapik, Patrick Suluarayok, Adam Pingushat and Gerard Irksuk.

Ussak, from Rankin, became just the second female to graduate from the course.

Arviat community economic development officer Keith Collier said the number of applicants for the third program swelled to 75, more than double the number of the previous two.

He said applications were received from across the Kivalliq region.

"It's obvious word is getting around and demand is high for this course," said Collier.

"This course is the only offering of the ADDT program for 20122013.

"We ran into some problems last year trying to run the program in the winter months; mainly blizzards and travel delays.

"So, instructors from our training partner, Northern College, recommended we avoid training in the coldest months."

In addition to the Hamlet of Arviat and the Northern College of Ontario, partners for the ADDT program include AgnicoEagle Mines Ltd., OrbitGarant Drilling, BoartLongyear Drilling, Economic Development and Transportation, Nunavut Arctic College and Kivalliq Partners in Development.

Securing funding for the third course intake was a challenge with the Kivalliq Mine Training Society being defunct for the year.

Despite that, Arviat is committed to running the program again in 20132014.

Collier said it's possible there will be two courses held in the coming year, but nothing is 100 per cent confirmed yet.

He said the ADDT program is expensive, so there's always funding concerns.

"I'm told the Kivalliq Mine Training Society should be back running again by next year.

"So, if that's true, I'm hoping there won't be any problem with securing funding next year."

Collier said there is a limit to how many diamond drills are going to be operating in Nunavut at any given time.

That means there's also a limit to how many jobs can be had, he said.

"That being said, we haven't hit that limit yet and there's already a lot of interest from employers for this current crop of graduates.

"And, it looks there will be continued interest going forward.

"But, we do think about exactly how many jobs are there to absorb the graduates when we make plans to offer one or two classes a year.

"We want to train people for jobs, not just for the sake of training them."

Collier said the program will eventually reach a point where it won't be run for a year to give industry the chance to absorb the graduates.

He said at that point, they may look at expanding into other areas of training needed in Nunavut.

"There's been very preliminary talks of holding a welder's or a welder's-helper course at some point.

"Something like that may be an option to run instead of the drillers' course for one year, just to make sure we have a nice diversity in our workforce."

Collier said the ADDT program continues to be successful, and is an important economic development activity for Arviat.

He said it leads directly to employment for Arviat and Kivalliq residents, and ensures the community is able to fully participate in the mining industry.

"We've had good results, in terms of jobs, with our previous graduates.

"A great example is Hunter Tattuinee of Arviat, who graduated from the course in April of 2012.

"He so impressed his superiors on the job over the summer, that the instructors requested him as their assistant instructor.

"We expect our current graduates will continue to find employment, and enjoy long, rewarding careers in the mining industry."

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