College of the Rockies is providing retraining opportunities for employees of the Canfor Canal Flats Mill who have lost their jobs due to a downturn in the timber market.
Canfor’s Canal Flats Mill announced on February 5, 2015 that half of their workforce would be let go due to a lack of economically available timber. The layoffs impacted employees in both production and maintenance departments at the Canal Flats site. Many of the jobs lost were high-paying, long-term jobs and their elimination creates a big impact on the region.
College of the Rockies is an active participant in the Canal Flats Worker Transition Team led by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. Other Team members include representatives from the Ministry of Advanced Education, WorkBC, Canfor’s Human Resources department and Union Transitions Team, and the Village of Canal Flats. The retraining is made possible, in part, by a one-time grant of $150,000 from the Ministry of Advanced Education.
“Industry slowdowns can put strain on a community, and we are committed to helping the people of Canal Flats during this transition,” said Minister of Energy and Mines and MLA for Kootenay East Bill Bennett. “Training provided through College of the Rockies will provide a strong foundation to build new careers. We are helping all British Columbians find their fit in our diverse, strong and growing economy.”
Leah Bradish, College of the Rockies’ Director of Continuing Education, Contract Training and Regional Campus Operations, is pleased to help the workers to recover from their devastating job losses. “The College is fully capable and ready to support these workers in any way we can during this difficult transition,” she says.
The College undertook a survey of the impacted workers and found that fifty-four percent of the respondents were interested in a Haul Truck Operator/Heavy Equipment hybrid program. In response to this interest, the College will be delivering two six-week programs that include the full Haul Truck Operator program certification as well as additional weeks of introductory simulation and theory instruction for dozers, graders and excavators. The first course will start July 27 and run until September 5 with the second taking place from November 2 to December 11.
“We are really excited for the opportunity to pilot the Heavy Equipment modules in our simulators and to build upon our already successful Haul Truck Operator simulator training,” adds Bradish.
To address the growth of the Liquefied Natural Gas industry, the College will also be providing the Working in Natural Gas program developed by Northern Lights College. The two Colleges partnered to provide the training to twelve participants in the Kootenays in January and will do so again when they run the program from October 5 to 30.
In addition to the retraining opportunities, the College’s Education Advising staff have made themselves available to displaced workers to explore new career options and to determine what, if any, upgrading or training needs they may have.
Learn more about College of the Rockies at: cotr.ca