A course with a price tag of over half a million dollars of federal money began with participants N.W.T.'s Mine Training Society knew would not be able to actually complete it.

Ten members of the Katlodeeche reserve were selected to be certified in geological drilling but band members say not one of them had their driver's licence — a prerequisite for completing the heavy equipment operator section of the course.

One band organizer says they were told it wouldn't be a problem.

However, Hilary Jones with the Mine Training Society says she told the First Nation to choose other participants.

"We didn't get to pick, so we had to rely on the Chief and the adult educator to select the individuals, because that's what they wanted to have control over," she said.

Jones wrote the funding proposal based on those 10 participants, knowing they would be unable to complete the training.​ 

Band organizers say the society advised them to set up a drivers education course, which they ran in November. But that course only offered people their learner's permit and participants needed an actual driver's licence to operate the machines​.

New participants with driver's licences had to be brought in midway through the program. Only three students remain.

Dr. Andrew Hodgkins researches education issues, including adult education in the Northwest Territories. He says he's not surprised the Mine Training Society accepted participants it knew would not be able to complete the course.

"They want to legitimize their own presence so they need to gain the funds from the federal government and show that these programs are in fact viable, hence the emphasis on the number of individuals coming into the program," he said.

The Mine Training Society is getting $5.8 million of funding from the federal government this year in addition to the millions of dollars it gets from industry partners.

Hodgkins says that until organizations like the Mine Training Society are held accountable for how students do after they leave the program the emphasis will continue to be on recruitment rather than long-term success.