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Local communities benefit as Heavy Equipment Operator students complete several projects

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DAWSON CREEK – Special training programs under the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training (JTST) Employment Skills Access (ESA) program in three Northern Lights College communities have provided immediate benefits to local residents, while also helping meet a regional demand for heavy equipment operators across northern British Columbia.

Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) programs have been offered by NLC in Atlin, Tumbler Ridge and Fort Nelson. The programs have been offered at no charge to qualified students, thanks to funding provided through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement.

The 12-week programs start with in-class theory sessions including Air Brakes, Safety Training, First Aid, Forklift, Ground Disturbance, TDG, WHMIS, surveying skills, and workshops on Conflict Resolution Skills and Staying Healthy on the Job. In class sessions were followed by 200 hours of work on various pieces of equipment through on-location practical training sessions.

The program in Fort Nelson started in late July, and will conclude at the end of September. Twelve students are working with the Fort Nelson Motocross Club and Fort Nelson Snowmobile Club to develop the motocross track in the community for practical training.

In Tumbler Ridge, nine students successfully completed the program, including a practical project where they rebuilt a stock car racetrack for the community.

“There was great camaraderie amongst the group, with a number of friendships being established. And, most importantly, many of the students already had job opportunities awaiting them prior to the program’s completion in July,” said Bev Litster, NLC Workforce Training Coordinator in Tumbler Ridge.

In Atlin, nine students also completed the program in July, which included three community projects:

  • Completing a major project at the airport;
  • Working with Atlin Tlingit Development Corporation to complete grading, as well as building a new road to Tarahne Gulch, a sliding hill and soon-to-be paintball location; and
  • Grading and graveling parking lots at Brewery Bay Marina.

“A ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the program, with more than 50 people from the community attending,” said Lynn Jancek, Workforce Training coordinator in Atlin. “The students received congratulations from the Airport Board and the Board of Trade for the work they did to help improve the community.”

Northern Lights College is the Centre of Training Excellence in Oil and Gas for the Province of British Columbia. For more information on programming available at NLC, check the website at, or call toll free 1-866-463-6652.