SD 20 students get to participate in Selkirk College's Project Heavy Duty

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
May 17th, 2016

A group of 20 high school students from School District 20 will get a chance to take their keen interest in the trades and local industry one step further with a hands-on experience that could cement their future.

Project Heavy Duty is being offered for the first time in this region as a way to connect employers, educators and students.

“We want to create a continuum for youth moving into the workforce, into the types of jobs we have in this area,” says Kootenay Workforce Development Coordinator Carol Currie.

Project Heavy Duty is an initiative coming out of the recommendations of Kootenay Regional Skills Training Plan—being led by Selkirk College in collaboration with the College of the Rockies—which aims to enhance the regional workforce and strengthen the economy in the Columbia Basin-Boundary. Project Heavy Duty has been offered with great reception in the East Kootenay for a number of years and Currie is excited to bring this event home to benefit local students.

“Hopefully, students will learn there are jobs here,” says Currie. “We know there are job openings in the West Kootenay. We know we have an older than average population and people are starting to retire. We need to keep our youth here to fill these jobs and part of that is engaging them early on to let them really see there is something for them here.”

On May 25 and 26, Project Heavy Duty offers high school students two days to explore aspects of a career in the trades and related careers. Murray McConnachie, Trades Coordinator for School District 20 says the youth chosen to take part in the inaugural event have demonstrated a keen interest in this field. The small group was selected based on their maturity, work ethic and attitude.

“We hand-picked the students we believe will benefit from this the most,” says McConnachie. “Project Heavy Duty will inspire our hardworking students to strive toward careers that will benefit them and their families in the future.”

On the first day of the program, WorkSafeBC will provide safety orientation as well as the safety gear they will need to be on the job site. Selkirk College and SD 20 have collaborated to provide Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS) training.

“They will all receive hard hats, safety vests, gloves, safety glasses and everything they’d need aside from steel-toed boots,” Currie says.

Students will then take a tour of the Pipeline-Pedestrian Bridge in Trail, an active worksite in that community.

“A representative from the construction company will walk them through, show them the different types of jobs and call attention to what they are doing,” says Currie.

On the second day of Project Heavy Duty, students will dive in and get hands-on experience. Held at United Rentals in Genelle (at 301 Courtesy Road just off Highway 22) between Castlegar and Trail, workstations will be set up featuring occupations incorporating a variety of equipment related to the types of industry found in the West Kootenay.

Students get the chance to operate machines such as a man-lift and transport truck, work with scaffolding and experience what it’s like to work with powerlines. BC Ambulance Service will also be on site to demonstrate their role in the local workforce.

“There will be operators there talking to the students about what they do in their job, going over the safety aspects and then actually letting them try something,” says Currie. “Kids learn better with hands-on. This is a really good way to introduce them to the types of careers that are right here in the West Kootenay.”

Local industries such as United Rentals, Fortis BC, Chinook Scaffolding, BC Ambulance Service and Mountain Transport Institute Ltd. are on board with the event donating time and equipment to make Project Heavy possible. Fortis BC and Local 480 are donating lunch.



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