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October 29, 2013
Expanding electrical projects benefit local workers
The British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BC AMTA) prepares First Nations candidates for careers in Canada’s expanding electrical industry.
“Every power line in the province of B.C. goes through First Nations territory and many through First Nations reserve lands,” says Leonard Jackson, Director of Operations, BC AMTA, “By training First Nations individuals to become power line technicians, we can provide an opportunity for them to participate in work that often occurs in their home community.”
Dan Boyle, a former electrician from the Adams Lake Indian Band, jumped at the chance to improve his career potential through power line technician training.
“I worked for a year in the trades,” says Dan, “When I heard that BC AMTA was offering power line training support, I quit my job as an electrician and enrolled. I wanted to upgrade to a better trade.”
Power line technicians play an important role in building, maintaining and repairing the overhead and underground electrical power transmission and distribution systems. The demand for these skilled tradespeople is rising. Across Canada, an increase in household consumption is translating into larger homes, the use of more electrical products and ultimately, higher electricity use. In rural areas, the demand for electricity is coming from First Nations communities switching from diesel power generation to electricity, and from mining and other resource development sites wanting to connect to the grid.
“There’s a huge demand for people in this trade,” says Jeff White, Employment Coordinator, BC AMTA.
For Dan, the decision to shift careers, from electrician to power line technician, was driven by his desire for an improved workplace environment.
“I wanted to work outside, rather than inside” says Dan, “I wanted to spend more time outdoors.”
BC AMTA financially supported three candidates through Thompson Rivers University’s (TRU) Power Line Technician Apprenticeship Program. Over the next three years, candidates will complete apprenticeship and course-based training before becoming journeyed technicians.
“One of the barriers to this type of training is the expense for work equipment and safety gear,” says Jeff.
When working on power lines, technicians require specialized gear for high voltage, including belts, spurs, hammers, straps, hooks, gloves, and safety equipment.
Another barrier to training is acquiring the prerequisite math and physics knowledge. BC AMTA covered the costs of specialized gear and provided tutoring services to prepare candidates for the course’s intensive final exam.
Chad Bentley, Power Line Consultant, gives praise to the hard work of BC AMTA’s candidates.
“The work ethic of those three guys was acknowledged by the CEO of the Line Contractors Association of B.C. These guys worked from 8am in the morning to 8pm at night. Based on their work ethic alone, they are going to be very successful in the power industry.”
To support candidates in accessing future power line training, BC AMTA is planning to upgrade members of the Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands, as well as the St’at’imc.
“The end goal is to build enough capacity within First Nations communities so that they can take on these projects themselves, utilizing their own skilled workforce,” says Leonard.
All three BC AMTA candidates are now working with Allteck to complete their apprenticeship training.
For more information about power line training programs through BC AMTA, please contact Jeff White, Employment Coordinator, BC AMTA at 250.314.9959 or [email protected]
If you have questions, comments or a story to share, please contact:
April Dutheil, Brand Journalist, Communications
BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association
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