Two new $5,000 scholarships funded by the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) and Chevron have been awarded to students in the Heavy Equipment Operator program at Vancouver Island University (VIU). BC’s Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson presented the awards to VIU students Jesse Creighton and Breanna Thompson at the TLA Convention & Trade Show in Victoria Jan. 23.

The new scholarships for VIU’s Heavy Equipment Operator students were created by the TLA and Chevron in response to the TLA’s labour market analysis, which predicts the coastal forest industry will need 4,700 skilled workers over the next decade.

“We know equipment operators are in demand and will be even more so in coming years,” said Don Banasky, TLA President. “It makes sense for the TLA and Chevron to get behind this program and support students interested in working as machine operators in the coastal forest industry.”

“Chevron recognizes that the forestry industry is a critical segment of the BC economy and that accessible, high quality skills training is instrumental to supporting this industry,” said Adrien Byrne, Chevron spokesperson. “That is why Chevron is proud to partner with the TLA in creating this new scholarship program and congratulates the two deserving recipients at Vancouver Island University.”

In her application letter to the TLA, Thompson said she looks forward to using her new skills in “such a diverse and dynamic industry,” and hopes to inspire other young women to pursue careers in industrial trades.

“The chance to be a positive role model for other women aspiring to a career in this field is incredibly important to me,” said Thompson, who is from Gabriola Island.

Creighton, who grew up in Sooke, said in his application letter that it has long been his goal to train as a heavy equipment operator and work in the forest industry on Vancouver Island.

“Forestry, to me, is a chance to live and work on the Island with a career that I love. It’s also an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of B.C.’s coastal forests,” he said.

“We’re thrilled to see the hard work of two of our top students in the Heavy Equipment Operator program recognized, and we’re grateful for the ongoing support and partnership with the TLA and Chevron,” said Paul Mottershead, VIU’s Associate Dean of Trades and Applied Technology. “We recognize the demand for skilled workers in the forest industry in BC and work closely with industry to support their needs.”