SMITHERS, October 29, 2013 – Graduates from Northwest Community College School of Exploration & Mining (NWCC SEM) are experiencing success. 75 per cent of those who completed the 2013 Workforce Exploration Skills Training (WEST) program report that they have been employed or continued on to further education and training. The intensive six-week WEST field program was delivered by NWCC SEM in partnership with the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC) with funding provided through the Canada – British Columbia Labour Market Agreement. The WEST program was customized for 2013 to provide students with a highly transferable skill set to maximize employment success in a range of natural resource industries including mineral exploration, environmental monitoring, and forestry.
The success of the WEST program generates positive outcomes for industry, communities, and most importantly, students. With exploration spending in BC significantly reduced from 2012, employment success for graduates provides a strong metric validating the robust skill set included in the program. NWCC SEM’s innovative field-based training model provides a realistic exploration camp environment and training from instructors with relevant industry experience. Students gain key technical skills in an authentic environment that promotes personal development and empowerment. For many this is a game changing opportunity. WEST graduate Christian Dye says, “This program offers hands-on experience, and the skills I learned were not only for work, they are life changing. I will never look at the outdoors the same.”
For the first time, this year’s WEST program was delivered in partnership with AME BC. “Many of BC’s 350 mineral exploration and development projects are located near First Nations communities; the alignment between the industry’s need for workers and the Aboriginal population’s need for jobs and capacity building is very strong. With half of 2013 WEST graduates identifying themselves as Aboriginal, AME BC is very pleased to have supported this program that helps bridge these two needs, ” says Gavin Dirom, President and CEO of AME BC.
With the Mining Industry Human Resource Council’s 2012 talent forecasts anticipating the need for between 13,000-19,000 new workers in the coming decade, training programs that lead to successful employment offer clear benefits to industry. Vice President Exploration of Imperials Metals Corporation Patrick McAndless has visited the WEST training camp regularly since 2012 and mentored many graduates. “Graduates of the WEST program are equipped with valuable skills that make them ‘job-ready’ and set to make a difference in our natural resource industries,” reflects McAndless.
In addition to AME BC, the WEST program owes its success to a partnership with the Smithers Exploration Group (SEG) who provide the camp where training occurs and hold two seats on the School of Exploration & Mining’s Advisory Committee. Through input from this advisory committee and direct feedback from industry, NWCC SEM proactively adapts training programs such as WEST to be responsive to the skills needs of industry. Northwest Community College president and CEO Dr. Denise Henning sums it up, “We are proud of the success of our NWCC SEM graduates and value our industry partnerships. It is through innovative partnerships like the WEST program that NWCC is able to provide the highest quality in programming and services to our students and communities in the northwest.”
Northwest Community College is an accredited post-secondary education institution offering a comprehensive range of courses and programs to the northwest region of BC. It serves this area through campuses in Haida Gwaii (Skidegate, Masset, Village of Queen Charlotte), Hazelton, Houston, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Smithers and Terrace. NWCC celebrates the diversity of its northern and First Nations populations and reflects this diversity in its programs, services and workforce.