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Economic Boom Creates Heavy Equipment Certification Opportunity

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Heavy Equipment Jobs
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The greatest economic boom in Canadian history could be missed if trades people are not developed for the coming resource wave. Forward thinkers are ensuring that certification requirements are met for the required labour pool.

Labour demands fueled by anticipated large scale expansion in the resource sector will require thousands more ticketed trades people for jobs in Alberta and BC. The capital projects proposed over the next 5 to 10 years include LNG pipelines, shipping ports, highways and roads along with new hydro-electric and mining projects. Capital expenditure is huge, there is currently over $100 Billion in BC alone at various stages of the permitting process.

All major projects begin in the dirt and need heavy equipment operators. Attitude, work ethic and experience count for a lot for workers hoping to cash in on the boom with a high paying job, but not everything.  These days, liability is one of the things likely keeping company owners up at night. They can rest easier by having certified employees.
Many insurance companies now prefer heavy equipment operators to have paperwork to go along with the experience. It’s estimated that several thousand heavy equipment operators in Canada are not actually ticketed, yet ironically they are the ones that logged the timber, and built the roads, transmission lines and mines of Western Canada. These un-sung heroes of the Canadian resource industry could lose out on jobs to less experienced operators who have certification.

As ticketed labour goes, the grey area is heavy equipment operators.

The Canadian Provinces are in disagreement about what a “ticketed” or “licenced” heavy equipment operator means. Across Canada any operator of an aircraft, automobile, train, motorcycle, taxi, bus or commercial van needs a standardized and specific licence to operate that specific vehicle.  No such standard exists for heavy equipment across Canada, however resource companies can take the initiative, by getting their workers certified to the highest standard through private training schools.

To realise Christy Clark’s vision that BC become a global leader in the Liquefied Natural Gas Industry (LNG) and other resource industries, an army of heavy equipment operators will need to be trained and ready- with certificate in hand to keep insurance companies happy and reduce liability.  There are many challenges to this mobilisation, including standards that will allow workers to move freely across the Western provinces, and also certification of the existing operator’s in the aging baby boom demographic.

In Canada and all other Western developed countries an imbalance exists between retiring trained workers, who typically are un-licensed, and the younger generation who will be trained to replace them- the so called ‘silver tsunami’.  “We’ve known for years that the cliff is off in the distance,” said Kevin Evans of Industry Training Authority.

Velocity Training is a BC company, who alongside their Alberta sister company High Velocity Equipment Training, are aiming to ease liability concerns of owners, as well as help experienced heavy equipment operators bring their qualifications to code.  “We want to stay ahead of the issues that are facing industry’s labour needs and innovate around that,” stated President, Shawn Bonnough. “With our certification for experienced operators (CEO) program, you don’t spend months in a classroom… once certified  the advantage for the operator is that driver’s licence or operator’s ticket is from a recognized college that employers respect and are waiting to hire their graduates”.
The condensed program can be done on a worksite in less than four hours as it is simply safety testing for an operator with the experience to challenge the full training. As a former commercial pilot, Bonnough has supervised the creation of a testing system that mirrors what a commercial pilot must undergo to earn and continually ‘update’ their license annually.

Velocity Training offer flexibility in delivering the CEO course, a two-part process including a classroom theory based  ‘machine knowledge and safety’ exam, and a ‘field-site safety and operational efficiency’ exam. The theory portion of the testing can be delivered online, or at either of their locations in Camrose, Alberta or Westbank, BC.
Another aim of the CEO program is to increase safety and enhance operating standards. “Years of experience can come with hardened bad habits,” Bonnough explains, “and it will be a relief for employers that candidates must complete the practical field exam that tests safety, machine maintenance and job skills competency on a machine, with the same requisites as a graduating student”.

Compared to the full operator courses, Velocity’s CEO program will save time and money and, as Bonnough states, “It’s healthy for experienced operators to test skills they already have against the highest standard in Canada…If they don’t pass… we have been told that the employer sometimes reconsiders employment for those experienced workers that are too unsafe to pass the beginner operators exam”.

By:  Craig Phillips,
contact for photos and backgrounder: 250-408-9124  craig@velocitytraininginc.com

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