TERRACE - Thanks to Northwest Community College’s (NWCC) government-sponsored Employment Skills Access (ESA) program, 372 Northwest BC residents are now prepared to take advantage of new job opportunities in the region.
By waiving covering the cost of tuition, student fees, and the cost of books and materials, and sometimes transportation and childcare costs, the ESA program aims to help unemployed and low-skilled workers access training and transition into new jobs.
“We – meaning the college, Northwest BC and its residents – have been extremely fortunate to receive this funding,” said Margo Van der Touw, NWCC Dean of Workforce Training and Continuing Studies. “The funding translates into locals accessing free training, and finding well-paid and challenging work on big projects coming to the area. This benefits the region as well as industry looking for skilled, certified workers.”
NWCC has received ESA funding through the government for three years. This year, ESA is funding five intensive training programs developed specifically to meet the needs of Northwest BC communities and industry projects in the area. These are Construction Trades Helpers and Labourers; Essential Office Skills; Industry Field Medic; Value-Added Carpentry; and Value-Added Heavy-Equipment Operator.
Programs are running in communities throughout the region including Gitanyow, Gitwangak, Gitwinksihlkw, Hazelton, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Terrace and on Haida Gwaii, in Masset and Skidegate.
“Programs like Employment Skills Access help unemployed British Columbians get the kind of training opportunities they need to secure employment in their regions,” said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. “ESA programs, along with our other skills and trades training programs, are helping to build a strong skilled labour workforce, which will help us meet the future labour demands in our province, particularly in the North.”
Already, a high percentage of ESA-funded graduates have found jobs or are continuing their education. Just last month Tiffany Rush of Gitanyow and Becky Buck of Terrace completed the Essential Office Skills program in Terrace.
“I thought it would only be office skills we learned, but there was actually a lot about self-worth in the course, too,” said Rush, who hopes to take more training. “I’m really proud of myself. I’m normally shy but this class taught me to come out of my shell. Just this week, one of my friends told me I seemed more confident.”
“I was never a big fan of school, but this course made me realize if I commit to something, I can succeed,” said Buck. “I feel like I did really well and I can’t wait to use the skills I’ve learned.”
One more ESA-funded course is starting at the end of this month and eligible students are encouraged to apply. Construction Trades Helpers and Labourers will run in Terrace from April 23 to June 15.
To be eligible for free tuition, participants must be unemployed. They also must not be collecting Employment Insurance, have not collected it in the past three years or, if it was a maternity or parental claim, have not collected it in the past five years.
For more information, contact NWCC ESA Case Manager Carrie Hobenshield at email@example.com or toll-free 1.877.277.2288 Ext 5267.
NWCC also expects to offer ESA-funded programs again next year and students can start applying in late summer.
ESA funding is provided through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement.
NWCC is a valuable community asset impacting the lives of students and our communities. Through its nine campuses, 500-plus employees and an annual injection of more than $30 million in the local economy, NWCC is an economic engine supporting the many communities that look to us to provide innovative programs and services.