N.W.T. aims to fill 'gap in expertise' with new geoscience program

The aim of the Geoscience Field Assistant Training Program is to train more residents so companies don't have to go south for employees.

Geoscience Field Assistant Training Program being offered through Aurora College at no cost to students

Patrick Greenland is one of the first eight students to participate in the N.W.T.'s new Geoscience Field Assistant Training Program. (Submitted by Shauna Catholique)

Eight students are taking part in the Northwest Territories' first training program to assist geoscientists.

It's called the Geoscience Field Assistant Training Program, and it's run through Aurora College at no charge to students.

The course starts with five weeks of in-class education, followed by 160 hours of paid, on-the-job training through mining companies that have partnered with the program.

The program has been funded by the territorial government, the Mine Training Society, Aurora College, and the local mining industry.

"There's sort of a gap in expertise," said Kumari Karunaratne, acting director of the Northwest Territories Geological Survey.

"We've got lots of geologists looking for work, and we have people that have good on-the-land skills, but [are] not necessarily geared towards geoscience work."

Karunaratne said geoscience field assistants have a wide range of work, including prepping field equipment, helping with bedrock sampling, and taking notes on observations.

A way into mining

Of the 27 people who applied to the program, eight were accepted. One of those students was Patrick Greenland, 35. He moved to Yellowknife from Inuvik about six months ago.

He was looking to get a job in the mining industry, but after handing out many resumes and visiting companies, he had no luck.

He's hoping this program will help him start a career in the mining industry.

"If you don't take this course, you're not going to be able to get out into the field unless you're a geologist or a prospector," said Greenland.

"And geologists, they go through three or four years of university. I think it's a good opportunity for anybody that just wants to try something new."

Right now, it's uncertain if the program will be offered again; it depends on feedback from the students and the employers, according to Karunaratne.


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