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Government support continues for exploration and mining training

Government support exploration

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources is continuing its support of the Northwest School of Exploration & Mining pilot program based at Northwest Community College's School of Exploration & Mining through renewed funding in the amount of $300,000. Offered in partnership with the Smithers Exploration Group (SEG), the pilot program delivers basic exploration skills training programs to local and First Nations communities in the northwest region of the province. 2005 marked the first year of its operation which resulted in seven separate offerings of the 6-day Basic Mining Exploration Skills program and a Driller's Helper Program. The program provided graduates with the necessary pre-employment skills to obtain employment with exploration companies and was offered onsite in base camps located throughout the northwest. "Working with SEG the College has been able to play a significant role in the economic resurgence of the northwest. With this continued support from Government, we can continue to build capacity in the northwest and provide a job ready workforce for this burgeoning industry," states NWCC President, Stephanie Forsyth. "The School has already proved it can respond quickly to industry training needs," says Gary Thompson President of SEG. "This second grant will help us to continue providing job ready employees to the 2006 field season." Exploration spending in northwest BC topped $100 million in 2005 and is expected to be higher this year. The funding is part of the government's initiative to expand training for youth from rural and Aboriginal communities to enable them to pursue careers in BC's mining and mineral exploration industry. The Northwest School of Exploration & Mining pilot program has set the standard for delivery from which the government will expand educational offerings throughout the province. "This is a real affirmation of the power of industry/education partnerships to deliver employment-ready graduates. The minerals sector is offering both good pay and great employment opportunities in our rural and Aboriginal communities, and we want to show them we've got exactly the kind of skilled workforce they need. It's important that we track employers' satisfaction with our graduates, and modify programs based on their input," comments Margo Van der Touw, Dean of Continuing and International Education at NWCC. NWCC's School of Exploration and Mining is headquartered in Smithers which will be the launch site of the Ministry's "Mining Rocks - Job and Career Opportunities Tour 2006." The School will be featured at the job and career fair which kicks off on February 22nd. This year will see an expansion of the School's program offerings. The new Mining Exploration Field Assistant program will be showcased at this year's Minerals North conference being held in Mackenzie from April 27 - 28. The program is an offshoot of the successful Basic Mining Explorations Skills program. Based on follow up research with employers and students in 2005, the School will be extending the length of the program, increasing the focus on safety training. The program will be running in Mackenzie during the conference and participants will be able to tour the program's base camp and experience first hand the educational setting and training area. "The industry is telling us they like the fact we offer practical training under real conditions, with instruction by industry experts. We're working with the industry on a new range of offerings for Exploration and Mining as we speak," continues Van der Touw. For more information on the program offerings of NWCC's School of Exploration & Mining contact Tracy Moore at 250-847-4461 ext 5822 or toll-free 1-877-277-2288.

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