Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk gets a hands-on demonstration of a haul-truck simulator during a visit to the College of the Rockies on Wednesday

Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk gets a hands-on demonstration of a haul-truck simulator during a visit to the College of the Rockies on Wednesday

Minister, MLA take the wheel of new college truck simulators

B.C.'s brand new Minister of Advanced Education got a look at a brand new program at the College of the Rockies on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

B.C.’s brand new Minister of Advanced Education got a look at a brand new program at the College of the Rockies on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Amrik Virk,  the Liberal MLA for Surrey-Tynehead got a hands-on demonstration of a haul-truck simulator during a visit to COTR in the company of Kootenay East MLA and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett. Bennett also took a turn behind the wheel of the simulator, which trains students in the handling of the massive trucks in use at mines in the Elk Valley and elsewhere.

The college began the four-week program in August with the first intake of students. The third session is underway this month.

“We expect thousands of jobs in the mining sector to open up over the next  few years — particularly in the Kootenays — and we need to ensure we are training students in the right region with the right skills,” Virk said.

The college bought four stationary haul-truck simulators earlier this year — two for the Cranbrook campus, two for the Fernie campus, and one mobile simulator. The machines were designed by Australian company Immersive Technologies.

Instructor Darren Hood told Virk and Bennett that the program made hiring and the training process much easier for mining companies, and added a degree of certainty as well. If someone spends the time and money to go through the program, Hood said, they are more likely to be in it for the long term. Companies are tired of spending three weeks training personnel and having them quit soon after, he added.

“With over 4,000 employees working at the five coal mines here and many  of them approaching retirement, the opportunities for my constituents to  find well-paying work with Teck Coal are excellent,” Bennett said. “The only hitch  is that you need skills. This truck simulator is a terrific way to  provide skills for a job that is in demand.”

A 2012 report by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council, in  conjunction with the Mining Association of BC, showed that heavy- equipment operators and truck drivers will be the top two mining sector  in-demand occupations in the next 10 years. Of the  11,330 workers needed in the B.C. mining industry, 6,370 will be needed in the Kootenays.

Virk also took a moment to praise the College of the Rockies for its reputation, being “consistently rated one, two and three in a whole host of categories”.

“It’s an example of the quality of education not just here in Cranbrook but in British Columbia,” Virk said.

Funding to help purchase the simulators came to more than $2.8 million. Funding sources included $580,000 from the province, $560,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust, and more than $1.7 million through Western Economic  Diversification.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison hopes for economic recovery plan in upcoming federal budget

Kootenay-Columbia Conservative looking for post-pandemic recovery plan in next week’s Liberal budget

Alexa Vanoni passed away in January, 2021 and her father Blair donated her drum set to Selkirk Secondary where she went to school and played in the music program.
Alexa’s drums: Behind every overdose statistic is a story

April 14 marks five years since the opioid crisis was declared a… Continue reading

Social distancing on bird walk. Photo by Pat Morrow
Wings Over The Rockies is back

The most diverse wildlife festival in North America set for May 10-16

The Rotary Park Auto Tourist Camp, circa 1923. Two years later, the camp was moved Pooley Avenue, and is now the Mount Baker RV Park. Courtesy Jim Cameron.
Mount Baker RV Park: What is the cost of NOT operating it?

Let me play devil’s advocate for a bit here, and look at… Continue reading

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read