The provincial government is pitching in some funding towards forestry training for 24 students enrolled at a program at the College of the Rockies.

Roughly $700,000 was funnelled into the Community and Employer Partnerships program, which will give the students both classroom and field experience in the forestry sector.

The students will learn about tree identification, silviculture, brush saw and chainsaw operation and maintenance, plant identification and Level 3 First Aid. The field experience will prepare the students for jobs such as junior field technicians, chainsaw operators, research assistants or silviculture surveyors.

“Acceptance into the Advanced Forestry Skills Training program allows me the opportunity to enter into a strong, growing industry with more than an entry-level skill set,” said Pamela Currie, a student within the program.

“The forestry industry can provide me with unlimited growth potential and with hard work I definitely plan on seizing those growth opportunities. The training provided in this program will build a strong foundation of knowledge in the forest industry while building the self-confidence of each student as we prepare to move ourselves forward in a new career.”

Currie and the rest of the students will receive 15 weeks of classroom training, two weeks of practicum experience in forestry and a minimum to two weeks of follow-up job search support. There are two intakes into the program; the first was in early September, the second will begin in January.

According to the provincial government, more people are leaving the workforce than entering it. Through the Community and Employer Partnerships—a component of Project-Based Labour Market Training—800 job-seekers and nearly 180 projects have been funded throughout the province.

“The support of Project-Based Labour Market Training fund allows College of the Rockies to provide free high-quality training to members of our community,” said David Walls, CEO of College of the Rockies. “This comprehensive program in Advanced Forestry Skills will open the door to numerous employment opportunities for our participants, which in turn provides a great benefit to the community as a whole.”

For the 2015/16 calendar year, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation is committing $331 million to employment and labour market programs under the Employment Program of B.C.

“Kootenay East will benefit from this Community and Employer Partnership preparing 24 people for work in the forestry sector prepared to work in fields such as silviculture, chainsaw operators and researches, just to name three,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett.