COTR offers program for mill workers

College of the Rockies (COTR) is helping the unemployed bounce back from the brink by providing opportunities to retrain.

Haul Truck Operator simulator

Haul Truck Operator simulator

Due to economic cuts in the timber industry, roughly 81 Canal Flats mill employees with Canfor were laid off. But the College of the Rockies (COTR) is helping the unemployed bounce back from the brink by providing opportunities to retrain.

Former Canfor employees are being provided the opportunity to retrain with COTR, who is a participant in the Canal Flats worker transition team, after the Ministry of Advanced Education gave the college a $150,000 grant.

“Industry slowdowns can put strain a community, and we are committed to helping the people of Canal Flats during this transition,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines as well as MLA for Kootenay East in a recent press release. “Training provided through COTR 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.”

In addition, COTR’s advising staff are available to help former Canfor employees explore new career options and determine what type of training would work well.

“The college is fully capable and ready to support these workers in any way we can during this difficult transition,” wrote Leah Bradish, COTR director of continuing education, contract training and regional campus operations in a recent press release.

The COTR will be offering two six-week programs that include the full haul truck operator program certification as well as additional weeks of introductory simulator training and theory instruction for dozers, graders and excavators after a survey revealed that 54 per cent of the unemployed expressed in an interest in the program. The first course will start on July 27 and run until Sept. 5.

The second session will run between Nov. 2 and Dec. 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,” said Bradish.

There will be a natural gas program delivered in partnership between COTR and the Northern Lights College in northern B.C. to address the growth of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Industry.

The partnership will allows 12 eligible Kootenay participants to be trained in both January and October.

For more information about College of the Rockies  programming, visit