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2014-02-18 at 16:29

Conference aims to engage job seekers in mining industry

By Matt Vis,
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Employment opportunities in the mining industry extend beyond the pit.

That’s the message behind this week’s Begin Your Journey Here Mining and Job Gathering conference, which was offered by the Thunder Bay Urban Aboriginal Strategy and North of Superior Workforce Planning Board.

Madge Richardson, executive director of North of Superior Workforce Planning Board, says the two-day conference is centred around letting Aboriginal community members explore the multitude of options that may present themselves.

“It’s looking at expanding your knowledge on where you can fit into it,” Richardson said on Tuesday at the Victoria Inn.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be underground. It can be some of the indirect jobs or setting up your own company to provide those services. It’s really allowing them an opportunity to look at themselves and where can they find their niche to fit in.”

She added while there are nearly 60 mining specific occupations that have been identified, the opportunities that extend beyond the direct jobs can multiply exponentially.

The approximately 180 attendees at the conference are able to interact with representatives from organizations such as YES employment, Northwest Employment Works and Lakehead University, as well as hear from various presenters.

It’s all about creating engagement, according to conference facilitator Stan Wesley.

“It’s all about getting people fired up to do something, to get people to be part of the economy and take advantage of the development that’s taking part in the area,” Wesley said.

The conference is presenting registrants with a variety of perspectives and focuses from within the mining industry.

One element that featured prominently in discussions is the responsibility the people feel to protect and respect the environment for future generations while pursuing development

That balance was illustrated during a presentation from a mining company.

“We had a panel that had an industry lens, but the people in the audience quickly reminded us that we have a delicate responsibility,” Wesley said.

“There may not be an overt mix but the mix is always there.”

While Wesley said most projects will have to take time to develop, both he and Richardson agreed the time is now for prospective job seekers to start equipping themselves with necessary skills and training.

She said they will need to hit the ground running to compete in what will be a competitive job environment.

“You do have time to get your ducks in a row. You can look at whether you need any further education or training, and if so, where you can go to get it,” Richardson said.

“It allows them time to research that and enroll and get the credits under their belts so they’re going to be more marketable and prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they become available.”

The conference concludes on Wednesday.

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