Training Training program geared for diamonds
NNSL (OCT 23/96) - Employers and unemployed construction workers have a chance to benefit from a new $214,000 job training program in the city.

In an attempt to shock a sluggish construction market into action, the NWT Construction Association has teamed up with the federal government to develop a basic job site, tool and shop safety program.

Workers hired from the program will have their wages subsidized up by to 50 per cent for about three months.

"Our goal is we're looking for a lot of employers on the job at the BHP construction site," said Dick Bushey, executive director of the association.

"One advantage is this gets people off employment insurance and employers get trained people at a subsidy. And they may be able to hire more people because the wages aren't as high."

The construction at BHP Diamond's proposed diamond mine includes a camp to house about 750 permanent workers. Tenders have also gone out to build a process plant, truck shop and power plant at the site 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

Part of the two-week pilot project will be geared to learning the work-site safety requirements of the BHP camp, Bushey said.

If employers are interested in a worker, the construction association will act as the middle-man. It will handle most of the paperwork, administration and matching of worker skills and experiences with employer needs, he added.

The program developed after federal officials examined who was on employment insurance and where upcoming jobs would be.

"One of the biggest pool of (people on) employment insurance were rather youngish in the construction, labor and trades," said Rita Pedersen, a program officer with the government.

"The construction association is plugged in with the industry so they can develop the program to meet industry standards."

The pilot project begins next Monday and runs for two weeks in Yellowknife.

If successful, Bushey and Pedersen said the program could be launched in other parts of the NWT.

"It's a model I hope we can take out from Yellowknife," Pedersen said. "If it looks workable and there are jobs coming up in the communities, we'll expand it."