College expected to be training hotbed

The Industry Training Authority (ITA) spent $1.5 million at the college last year in helping finance apprenticeship training at the college.

  • Tue May 22nd, 2012 2:00pm
  • News

A PROVINCIAL agency that helps train people for skilled jobs expects to work closely with Northwest Community College as industrial activity increases in the region.

The Industry Training Authority (ITA) spent $1.5 million at the college last year in helping finance apprenticeship training at the college.

It hasn’t settled on a dollar value for this year but anticipates growing interest in trades training as employment opportunities open up, says Kevin Evans, its chief executive officer.

“Last year we were involved in eight technical training programs taking up 482 seats,” he said.

“The key is we have to have the employers who have the employees and then we find the money [for the training],” Evans added.

And while most of the attention has been focused on large-scale companies moving into the northwest, Evans said the training authority tends to work more closely with smaller companies who have hired apprentices.

In particular, Evans said the authority is acutely aware of the need to train northerners for trades openings in the region.

“We’d like this to be of the north, in the north and for the north,” Evans added of general plans to increase skill levels in the region.

But he did acknowledge the need to bring in those workers who have the kinds of specific skills required by companies.

“Even if we could train everyone in the area, there would still not be enough workers. There will have to be a balanced approach,” Evans continued of the need to bring in outside workers.

Overall, a provincial study predicting top  employment demands for the next decade in the northwest suggest that 570 non-automotive machinery and transportation equipment mechanics, 550 carpenters and cabinetmakers and 510 heavy equipment operators will be needed to replace people who are retiring or to fill new positions.

In examining requirements for 15 trades in the northwest, the study estimated that 3,600 people will be needed to replace retiring workers or to fill new positions over the next decade.

Generally speaking, the authority helps finance the operating costs of an institution’s training programs and it can provide money directly to students depending upon their individual circumstances.

Evans said assistance to students includes people who are not eligible for Employment Insurance.

The goal is to ensure people have the opportunity to gain the kind of skills needed leading up to the pre-apprenticeship phase.

“We don’t provide the capital to institutions. That’s more of the role of the advanced education ministry,” Evans cautioned.

Evans did say the authority has an excellent working relationship with Northwest Community College.

“We deal with 16 public and 23 private institutions,” said Evans. “The northwest is exceptionally well served by Northwest Community College from my experience.”

He said the college’s regional network of campuses shows it understands the area and the needs of its residents.

For its part, the college has been building up its trades programs over the past several years.

It has, for example, applied to several federal agencies for up to $1.5 million to purchase heavy equipment simulators.