BladeRunners program helping Burns Lake youth

On the job training and experience is proving to be a valuable asset for a number of aspiring young locals.

(Top) BladeRunners participants completed the a number of courses at the College of New Caledonia including First Aid level 1. (Bottom) Customer service was one of the skills BladeRunners participants learned.

(Top) BladeRunners participants completed the a number of courses at the College of New Caledonia including First Aid level 1. (Bottom) Customer service was one of the skills BladeRunners participants learned.

On the job training and experience is proving to be a valuable asset for a number of aspiring young locals participating in the BladeRunners program.

The program is recognized both nationally and internationally and it targets at-risk youth aged 15 to 30 years of age by providing them with basic training to facilitate entry into the labour force.

It is funded through the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation and is free of charge to participants.

Companies from all sectors of industry provide employment experience opportunities and the ultimate goal is for program participants to gain sufficient skills and experience that will eventuate into a long term attachment to the labour force.

BladeRunners participants also receive certified health and safety training and learn life skills and job readiness skills that help them build self-esteem and confidence.

Local participants have been accredited in a baby sitting course, first aid level one as well as WorldHost customer service training, Health Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System [WHIMIS] and cashier training.

Garry Klugie, principal of the K’ay Skak Higher Learning Centre and Teanne Paulson, BladeRunners team leader are working together administering the program.

According to Klugie, the Burns Lake BladeRunners program is one of three being offered through the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association.

Approximately 10 local youths have signed on to the program and have participated in training and employment initiatives at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) Lakes District campus, the Real Canadian Wholesale Club, traffic control training, Kal Tire, The Bargain Shop, Village of Burns Lake public works department and Fields.

Paulson said the participants have had numerous opportunities in the community for on the job training as well as completing a Food Safe level one course and an opportunity to try welding at CNC.

“How do they know that they don’t like a job, or if they like a job, until they try it,” Paulson said, adding that the program gives the participants an opportunity to gain basic skills in a number of job related fields.

“They may then choose to pursue a career in one of these jobs. One of the boys has even been offered a job at the Real Canadian Wholesale Club as a result of the program,” she said.

The Village of Burns Lake gave a number of students the opportunity to ride along in a dump truck and a snow plow truck as well as work with the village works crew clearing snow off the tennis courts and garbage pick up duties around town. There is also an opportunity for participants to help the works crew with spring flower planting.

“We had access to the Babine Forest Products sawmill on Jan. 14, 2012 and toured the mill, but it is hard to get access to the mines … transportation is difficult, we have to work with the industry that we have here in the area. We don’t have a lot of construction, but we will try everything … whatever opportunities we can secure,” Klugie said.

The program has been running In Burns Lake since Jan. 6, 2012 and Klugie said a second BladeRunners program will begin in the local area in April or June 2012 and possibly a third over summer, which would be open to all local youth.

The BladeRunners program runs for 12 weeks, with participants getting on the job experience or training for three days and in the classroom on Fridays.

Klugie said it is the second year the program has been held in Burns Lake, but it is the first year the K’ay Skak Higher Learning Centre has taken the lead in offering the program.

“We used this program for students as a building block to future opportunities,” he said.

Participants said they learned about conflict resolution, how to write a resume, what to say in an interview and learned life skills such as how to manage a personal budget.

“This is an amazing group of young people. Aboriginal youth is the fastest growing population in the local area so this program is very beneficial. It is giving participants the skills they need to gain employment,” Paulson said.