THUNDER BAY -- Mining jobs have long been touted as the Northwestern Ontario’s best chance at a return to prosperity.
But a career in the industry isn’t for everyone.
Often it involves extended stays in isolated camps, far from friends, family and the amenities of city life. It can come as a bit of a shock for some, says Madge Richardson, head of the North Superior Workforce Planning Board, which on Wednesday launched Reality Blast, the organization’s new resource tool aimed at those seeking mining jobs.
It’s a tool that’s been a long-time coming, say school and employment counselors, who often come across students curious about mining, but unsure of what is available or what it might entail.
The new portal provides many of those answers, said Mary Louise Bizzarrino, an employment advisor with Confederation College’s Northwest Employment Works.
“Some people don’t take into account they’ll be away for two weeks,” she said after watching a presentation detailing the portal and what it offers.
“It’s a great tool from a front-line perspective. It’s a reality check.”
The millennial generation has grown up with computers and a near infinite supply of information at their fingertips, but often narrowing down specifics can be tough.
The mining industry in Northwestern Ontario has been particularly daunting for those trying to figure out what jobs are available at which mines, Bizzarrino said.
“Specifics are really hard to eke out,” she said. “You would have to research through a lot of information. Doing cross-comparison is really important.”
Lakehead Public School’s Paul Tsekouras says the site, accessible at www.realityblast.ca, is invaluable to graduating and soon-to-graduate students.
“The opportunity to have something that’s current and accessible from their mobility device allows them to be able to plan their career pathways,” he said.
“The fact that this website is going to be kept current is a real lever for our students.”
Kevin Sherlock, Nokiiwin Tribal Council mining development co-ordinator, saying it gets the information out to their target audience.
With several new mines expected to come on stream by decade’s end and a shortage of skilled workers in the region, it’s essential to encourage as many people as possible to take up mining as a potential career.
“The reality is, we could be scrambling for employees,” he said.
“I don’t think any one site can do everything, but this is a very part of the problem.”
The site breaks down each mine or prospective mine, detailing location, living conditions, salaries and work expectations.
Richardson, the Planning Board’s executive director, said they tried to include answers to just about any question that might be asked, and create a user-friendly site that anyone of any computer ability could easily navigate.
“It will give them up-to-date, realistic information about what the life of miner may entail,” she said.
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