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A one stop shop for skilled mining labour.

Four Northern Ontario community colleges are banding together with Laurentian University to provide the mining industry with a one-stop shopping source for skilled labour.


After Sudbury's Cambrian College and Northern College of Timmins signed a memorandum of understanding last October to create a Federated School of Mines, the two founding partners were expected to add three more educational partners to the mix by late January.

Coming on board are Thunder Bay's Confederation College, North Bay's Canadore College and Sudbury's Laurentian.

One of the purposes of the school is to assist the mining industry in meeting its anticipated labour force and developmental needs.

Cambrian College president Sylvia Barnard says the School of Mines should make it easier for industry to access the training and the employees they need. She calls the Federated School "a coming together of all our strengths" to serve the industry's needs.

With an estimated 58 per cent of workers in the mining industry expected to retire by 2009, the Canadian mining industry is forecasting a need of 80,000 skilled workers.

The school will provide not just mining technicians, but all of the various trades in demand.

All four colleges deliver skilled trades geared to the mining and mining supply services sector, while Laurentian offers degree programs in mining engineering, geology and the environmental services. Northern College's Haileybury campus is home to the world-renowned Haileybury School of Mines, which has trained more than 2,000 graduates.

The Federated School is part of the training and education link to the larger Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation being proposed for Sudbury.

"We believe as a group that collaboration makes us all stronger," says Barnard. "It eliminates the duplication and we work from our strengths across the North."

She says the partnership demonstrates a commitment to economic development in all the 200 resource-dependant communities they serve in the region. "If we can collaborate, it makes it easier for industry. It gives industry one point of contact."

Included in their plans is the creation of a mining school directorate, starting with the hiring an executive director who will be a centre point of contact representing all of the college partners and their trades programs.

The office will likely be headquartered in Sudbury on the Cambrian campus. Barnard says they are pursuing about $1 million in start-up funding from FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. (NOHFC) to be spread out over three years.

"As soon as the new partners are signed on at the end of January, we will be moving forward with the (funding partners)," she said.

In the months to follow, they expect to name an executive director, draft a governance model and terms of reference, define a scope of responsibility and make industry contacts.

Barnard says enrolment in Cambrian's trades programs are at or near capacity. This year, 600 students are registered in mining or mining-related programs with close to 1,000 in various skilled trades. "We're running our shops from 7:30 am to almost midnight. We're looking at weekend delivery of apprenticeship programs because we're running out of lab and shop space."

In May, the college partners will be looking for placements for 500 apprenticeship students for a four-month summer semester, mostly in the mining sector. Barnard says these "ready-to-be-productive" electricians, millwrights, heavy equipment mechanics, welders, machinists and tool-and-die makers will have one year of college under their belts as well as their first level of apprenticeship when they graduate.

Cambrian has one of the world's best mining technician programs and is exporting its curriculum abroad. They have been involved in mining training courses in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Chile, Peru, Saudi Arabia and they are working with the Egyptian government's training ministry and an engineering firm to start up a multi-year, 10-phase training project in mining, health and safety, and management in that country. An agreement was to be signed in Cairo by late January.


Northern Ontario Business
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Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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