Heavy equipment builds bright futures

Fri. Sep. 28/12
Northwest Community College Connections

After Jessie Louie graduated from high school in Terrace, she decided that following in her father’s footsteps as a heavy equipment operator would be just the thing for her – well paid, secure work anywhere she might choose to go. So she signed up for Northwest Community College’s Heavy Equipment Operator program. “It can be kind of intimidating at first, but it’s so much fun. I love operating the big rock truck.” says Jessie.

Jessie, who describes herself as a “girly-girl”, is now enrolled in Heavy Equipment Operator Apprenticeship (HEO) program (she completed the Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) Foundation program in May 2012) at NWCC. Both programs incorporate training and practice using simulators. The simulators allow students to operate equipment in a realistic and safe environment. Once students complete theory and simulator training, and thoroughly understand how to safely operate equipment, they graduate to hands-on practice on industry-standard heavy equipment in a real-world work setting.

The HEO Apprenticeship training is the next step in Jessie's receiving her journey-person status and Red Seal certification. As BC‘s economy regains strength after the global economic downturn, the Northwest is experiencing rapidly increasing demand for skilled workers from high-growth industries. The federal government’s recent $537,380 investment in NWCC, specifically to expand heavy equipment operator training across the region, allows students to become those proficient and certified HEO operators that are in high demand throughout the region and the province.

After completing the HEO Foundation program, Jessie immediately got a job at Finning working in the CAT Rental Store and operating equipment, and continues to work part-time as she completes her HEO Apprenticeship training at NWCC.

Jessie receives tremendous support from her family, NWCC, Tahltan Central Council, Iskut First Nations band, BC Hydro and Alta Gas. She says she's grateful for all the help and support she receives and is looking forward to all the opportunities and independence her new skills will bring.