NWCC partnership supports environmental training for high school and adult learners in Northwestern British Columbia

Vancouver – Northwest Community College School of Exploration and Mining (NWCC SEM) is entering into a $34,000 agreement with the B.C. Mining HR Taskforce and School District 54 to deliver environmental monitoring training to people interested in working in the minerals industry in the region, responding to the premier’s call for more training to support a growing economy in the north. The program, targeting 50 percent First Nations learners, will train young people in entry-level skills that are needed in Northern BC’s booming minerals industry.

“This builds on the strong reputation Northwest Community College has for providing education that supports industry and communities in Northern BC,” Dr. Denise Henning, president and CEO of NWCC said at a signing ceremony held at the Aboriginal Gathering Place at the annual Roundup conference held by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AMEBC) in Vancouver.

“The success of our training programs plus our responsive and flexible approach to delivering entry-level skills training has meant that our graduates are job-ready. It has been a truly transformative experience for our students and we are grateful for this validation of the good work being accomplished at our School of Exploration and Mining in Smithers,” added Henning.

The Environmental Monitoring Assistant Program (EMAP) is a partnership with School District 54 that allows students in grades 11 and 12 to earn dual credit in high school and college. The EMAP program is also open to adult learners. A combination of classroom and field-based experiences will give students the skills to assist in environmental monitoring while providing an entry point for careers in the minerals industry.

"We are particularly delighted to add the EMAP opportunity as it provides students with a dual credit course,” said School District 54 superintendant Chris Van der Mark. “This course will not only give students direct skills for future employment, but also help develop a local and regional sustainable labour force in the Northwest."

The BC Mining HR Taskforce made a series of recommendations in their 2012 report on needs in the minerals industry. Among them, raising awareness in high school students about career opportunities, effectively increasing talent pools through collaboration with partners and piloting programs that have proven success.

“The Northwest region is poised for economic success in the near future,” said Dave Bazowski, Chair of the Task Force,” As these jobs come up, these students will be able to acquire these opportunities that will lead to careers in the region.”

Imperial Metals Corp., a partner in this agreement, has supported NWCC-SEM’s field-based approach and contributed to graduation awards for students of the training programs like this one.

“I present this model of training to people across Canada and the United States,” said Patrick McAndless, vice-president, exploration at Imperial Metals, “The NWCC model of education provides a blend of field work and classroom study, exactly the kind of training we are looking for from our employees.”

The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and The Office of the Wet’suwet’en are also supporting partners in this project.

Northwest Community College School of Exploration and Mining leads mining training in British Columbia under the provincial government’s Skills and Training Plan and is considered headquarters of the B.C. Centre of Training Excellence in Mining. Established in 2004 with the support of its founding partner, the Smithers Explorations Group, it has helped hundreds of young people in the region get jobs in the region’s growing minerals sector.