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Province of British Columbia
For Immediate Release
June 4, 2014
Ministry of Advanced Education
Province provides jobs training support for sawmill workers in Houston

HOUSTON – The Government of British Columbia is providing $150,000 to Northwest Community College (NWCC) under B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint to provide job skills training and retraining opportunities for workers impacted by the closure of the West Fraser sawmill in Houston.

“Northwest Community College is an important partner in the response to the sawmill closure in Houston,” said Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad on behalf of Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. “The college has met with former sawmill workers and will offer a number of training programs that best meet the needs of workers and enhance their job prospects.”

The training being offered was determined by NWCC working in partnership with the Houston Community Adjustment Team and affected workers. It includes programs for heavy equipment operator, construction safety officer, and electrical. The training will be delivered at the NWCC Community Learning Centre in Houston beginning in September and will complement ongoing program offerings at that location.

“The mill closure is a stressful situation for workers, their families and the community, which is why we were on the ground in Houston as soon as possible,” said Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond. “Our Community Adjustment Team, with help from WorkBC staff, has co-ordinated programs, services and training for workers. This funding comes at a critical time and I’m very pleased that there is an opportunity for sawmill workers to train for new careers, without leaving the area.”

The Government of British Columbia continues to work closely with the District of Houston and local and regional organizations to provide support for workers, families, contractors and suppliers − as well as the broader community − affected by the sawmill closure. Services include career counselling, job matching, skills upgrading, business startup support and financial advice.

“This support allows Northwest Community College to continue to be responsive to the community of Houston as it goes through the transitional period as the Houston Forest Products Mill shuts down,” said NWCC interim president Denis Caron. “The Northwest Community College Learning Centre in Houston has an active advisory committee that has helped our staff identify the training most required by those affected by the mill closure. We look forward to offering flexible, accessible and innovative training opportunities.”

The Province also is providing $150,000 to the College of New Caledonia to provide training opportunities for workers affected by the closure of the Canfor sawmill in Quesnel.

Projections show a million job openings in British Columbia by 2022, with about 43% requiring skills and trades training. Under B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: Re-engineering Education and Training, the Province is working to better match skills training to jobs.

Media Contact:
Scott Sutherland
Communications Manager
Ministry of Advanced Education
250 952-6400

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