Training pays off
The North recognizes 'Apprenticeship Week'

Scott Crabbe
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 07/00) - Running since 1964 and overseeing the successful training of more 4,000 apprentices, the North Apprenticeship Program has proven to be one of the finest in the country.

"I think it's been an evolving program," said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Jake Ootes, at a ceremony honoring top Northern apprentices last week.

"It's been gaining success through the years, currently there are 240 apprentices in 42 trades."

Ootes proclaimed Jan. 31-Feb. 4 as 'Apprenticeship Week' in the Northwest Territories. The theme for the week of activities was "Apprenticeship is just the Beginning." Special events were held in many communities to recognize the partners that contribute to the success of apprenticeship programs in the NWT.

"Together with their many partners, apprentices and trades, people make a vital contribution to the northern economy," Ootes said.

"From carpentry to cooking, apprenticeship has allowed many Northerners to get a head start in the pursuit of a fulfilling a rewarding career."

Hay River resident Rodney Allen Burrows of recently graduated from the Apprenticeship North program and now has his Journeyman's ticket in welding.

"I was welding for years when I decided to get my ticket in it," Burrows said.

"It's a different world once you have your ticket."

Although Burrows had worked as a welder for a long time, he found there was still something to learn about the trade.

"The theory was a major learning experience," Burrows said.

"Books are a must. It gives a whole lot more to think about."

Industries unique to the North attract other trades, such as certified diamond polishers.

"The NWT is trying to establish itself as the diamond capital of North America," Ootes said.

"The diamond polishers certification course is the only one of its kind in North America."

The government has further taken the imitative to run pilot programs through the high schools, giving students a chance to participate in entry-level courses for trades that are expanding in the North.

"We are interested as a government in the tourism industry," Ootes said.

"The entry level course is being piloted (through the high schools) for September. We have to fill and provide occupational training according to industry demands."