Mine Training Backers Laud Program’s Success

Friday, October 09, 2009 at 15:03



The CEO of Northlands College says the fact that 15 years in, a diverse group of program backers continues to support an employment and training strategy to expand northern involvement in the mining industry is proof of its success.


Bill McLaughlin has been involved with the Multi-Party Training Plan — which was renewed yesterday in La Ronge — since it was just an idea.


He applauds not only the impressive statistics on job creation and training, but the fact that every core partner — from the college, to the provincial government, to First Nations and Metis agencies — is still involved.


“It’s somewhat unique in the country to have that range of stakeholders, and to be able to maintain that range of stakeholders for 15 years, and have them here again today for another five years — that attests to the success,” he says.


“Since we all lead busy lives, we’d be doing other things if this wasn’t advancing things beyond what we could do individually.”


With the partners having committed to another five years — and nearly $13-million — McLaughlin sees the training plan continuing to evolve, so that northerners gradually move into the top jobs at northern minesites.


“We do have some northerners in supervisory positions, but not near to the level that they would be represented in some of the other occupational groups within the mines. So that will be the primary focus (of this phase of the agreement) — the upper technical levels, the professional levels, the management levels — that next generation of employee that’s going to be required,” he says.


McLaughlin says the Multi-Party Training Plan has always had a mandate to provide whatever training the industry requires — so the existing partners will partner with whoever can teach northerners the skills they now require for advancement.


Meanwhile, a uranium company vice-president says the success of the Multi-Party Training Plan creates “a strong business case” for his company’s continued involvement.


Cameco v-p Gary Merasty says he has seen a lot of evidence that it is, quite literally, changing the face of the northern mining industry, as the number of northern employees increases.


Merasty says the plan’s continued success is a credit to northern ingenuity.


“The Multi-Party Training Plan really is a northern creative approach. It looked at bringing a partnership approach together to actually mobilize what I think is our competitive advantage in the north, that we offer the rest of Saskatchewan, which is this young population. They’re so well-positioned and poised to take over for retiring baby boomers. So this investment we see today, in the millions of dollars in education and training — we’re going to get it back triple-fold in the future,” he says.


Rob Norris, the province’s minister of advanced education, employment and labour, also sees the agreement as a proven model for maximizing northerners’ potential.


“The successes so far — they’re in the thousands as far as offering training opportunities for people of the north…. Succeeding in school, succeeding in training, staying in the north, contributing to northern communities, and of course all through partnership — these are the key variables that come together, that in my opinion make this very unique and very successful,” he says.


More than 100 mining-related training opportunities are provided each year through the MPTP, as well as scholarships, role modeling for younger students, science camps, and support for apprentices and northern contractors.