New mining program at Sudbury high school guaranteed to rock
It's a program at École Secondaire MacDonald-Cartier (ESMC) that a few students will certainly dig.
The Sudbury high school has launched a new co-op placement, a Mining Specialist Major program, for students interested in getting first-hand knowledge about the mining industry.
"With the specialist high school major in the mining sector, we need to place every student in the mining sector or mining-related field so all of the students involved will need at least two credits to do this by the end fo their grade 12," said ESMC coop teacher Michel Bélanger.
According to Bélanger, the choice to launch a mining major was obvious for the school.
"Sudbury is the mining basin and we have a lot of the expertise, worldwide expertise actually, and we have mining giants here such as Vale and Glencore as well as several junior companies. We also having mining equipment specialists, people who supply the mines .... so we have it all here in our Sudbury basin so the choice was quite obvious. We need a major because we know our students, once they graduate, will get several job opportunities in this field," he explained.
"The idea of creating this was to introduce the students to all the possibilities that are out there in terms of the workforce. Whether it be health and safety, whether it be heavy duty mechanics, electricity or any type of energy, it's really to open up all those facets and make the students aware that there are several possibilities," said guidance counselor Ron Poulin.
The first cohort of students registered for the program back in September and registration is already underway for the second and third cohorts.
Poulin says there have been a lot of misconceptions about the industry and students are learning there is more to mining than just the traditional underground work with maybe a pick axe.
"They (students) don't necessarily come in and say I want a career in mining, it's always 'I'm not sure what I want to do yet,' right, so my job is to more a less present their interests, what they're passionate about and to show them ya you just don't have to be a heavy duty mechanic to work in the mines or you don't have to go in engineering only to work in the mines. There's other possibilities," he said.
All of the students go through interviews with Bélanger. After a series of a questions, they try and pinpoint what puts a smile on their face, where they find a future career and go from there.
"Some say I don't know what I want to do sir and I tell them 'hey, it's normal, we've all been there," he smiled.
Former student, alumnus Stephane Bélanger works in the mining field now and says a program like that would have been helpful to him and his classmates at the time
"It certainly would have opened my eyes to a few of the diverse industries that mining does tough. Mining touches every single discipline you can think of, from accounting to environmental to geological to engineering, even construction. Construction underground, it touches every single facet you can think of and that would have opened my eyes to it certainly," he said.
The former student imagines a course like this would have been very popular with his classmates and believes it'll have no problem in finding interested recruits.
"I think it would give you a step up so you can at least understand the basic inputs to mining, right," he added. "Everyone knows mining, you're underground, you bring up some material and it makes something but at least you get the basic idea of how to get underground, the pit mines and how to extract the ore from the ground," he added.
The mining supply sector, for example, according to Mine Connect, has more than 23,000 people working in it across Northern Ontario.