New college program offers immersion in mining work
WHITEHORSE – Yukon College is joining forces with Alexco Resource, Yukon Zinc and Capstone Mining (collectively “the Producers”) and the Advanced Education Branch of Yukon Education to place more local workers in jobs at the territory’s three working mines.
The College is currently accepting applications to the new, forty-four day Introduction to Mining Operations program. It has been designed to give students a clear pathway to employment upon completion.
The program will give students a unique opportunity to experience a two-week shift rotation. It follows an overview of the entire mining process, an orientation to the working environment in an underground and surface mine, heavy equipment training, and essential certifications in safety awareness.
This new approach to job-skills training comes from collaboration with industry partners to address specific skills gaps in Yukon workers.
“It is absolutely in our best interest to hire locally,” said Brad Thrall, COO, Alexco Resource and Chair of the Yukon Producers Group, a new organization that represents the three working mines in the territory.
“The greatest challenge we face in doing so is the scarcity of available skilled workers in Yukon. We have collectively designed this program to develop entry level skills for Yukoners which will hopefully increase the number of qualified local candidates.”
“We have learned a lot from how they run similar programs in Alaska,” said Shelagh Rowles, Executive Director, Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining at Yukon College.
“They found there can be a disconnect between the number of students who completed training and those who remain working in the mining industry. This has been improved by having employers review applicants prior to entering training.”
Likewise, applicants to the new program in Yukon will be screened and interviewed by the Producers before being accepted. A greater emphasis is being placed on personal references, previous skills and experience, rather than academic qualifications.
“There is no guaranteed job at the end but people should treat it more like they are actually applying for a job, than applying for college,” said Rowles.
“The benefit is that instead of waiting until the end of the program to evaluate potential employees, the companies are talking to you all the way through and getting a more well-rounded assessment of your capabilities.”
Worker retention in the mining industry is affected by such things as people discovering that they are not as suited to the work as they had thought, difficulty adjusting to the shift cycles and being away from their families.
Rowles added that besides giving students a much greater hands-on experience of mining work, this program will also offer support and advice on the lifestyle challenges that come with a job in mining.
This program is just the beginning. “It is anticipated that Yukon’s producing mines will require over 2,000 skilled workers in the coming years. We want to build upon this partnership with industry and government to ensure we meet the training needs of Yukon’s mining sector,” said Rowles.
The program fee is $1,000 and will start January 21, 2013 in Whitehorse. Accommodation for applicants from the communities will be provided in Whitehorse by Yukon College. During work experience placements, meals and accommodation will be provided by the mining companies.
More information, including a full course outline, can be found online at http://www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/programs/info/mine/
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