KAMLOOPS — Not all students considering post-secondary education want to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, or teachers. At the School District 73 Heavy Metal Rocks event, those students who might be less inclined to pursue a university education are given an opportunity to try their hand at operating heavy machinery, while learning on-the-job skills like first aid, and construction site safety.
Playing in the mud with heavy machinery is many five-year-old’s ideas of heaven - this morning in Kamloops, 26 secondary students got lo live that dream, at the School District 73’s annual Heavy Metal Rocks event - a class designed to give these students a taste of what working with these big rigs is like.
“We’ve got 13 stations set up, with 26 different pieces of equipment,” School District #73 Vice-Principal of Trades and Transitions told CFJC Today. “[There are] volunteer operators at every station that train the students for a brief period at the start… then work hands-on with the students.”
It’s a program proven to work. Karl Walden took part in 2010’s Heavy Metal Rocks and ended up getting hired shortly after the event.
“Right after I took the course in 2010, I was given an opportunity to join the Local 115,” Walden says. “I had my first job within a month… of joining the union.”
Walden says he happily volunteered to come back this year, and lend a hand to this new batch of students
“It’s a great opportunity to get out and see what running equipment’s all about,” Walden explained, adding “I wanted to basically give back. Give [the students] an idea that there’s more than just going back to school.”
One of the students in this year’s Heavy Metal Rocks class is Shelby LaCoste. She’s been taking full advantage of every opportunity to gain valuable skills.
“I’ve done the MyIT Program, which I got my Scaffolding Awareness Certification, as well as my Fall Protection… I’ve done welding through Skills Canada, which was pretty awesome. I’ve also done the NorKam Trades Program, all of this had led up to going into Heavy Duty Mechanics at TRU next year,” LaCoste explained. “They all look good on a resume!”
There are between 50 and 60 sponsors who make the event possible, providing everything from the machines and fuel the students work on, to making sure every one is fed and stays dry on a day like today.
For Collins, it’s all worth it when he sees the kids getting to operate the heavy machines.
“The biggest feedback for me is [walking] around here, you look at the students, you look at the smiles on their faces,” Collins says. “Every year we have several operators… they just love coming to this program; they like giving back to the students.”
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