Heavy Equipment Operator training offers immediate employment for nearly all grads
- EFN Staff | September 01, 2018
Renee Wolfe was one of the 12 students who studied in this year’s Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) program based in the Standing Buffalo community which took place this past spring.
Wolfe from the Muskowekwan First Nation was employed at the Regina bypass immediately after the program was finished. She was grateful for the experience and acquiring the necessary skills to work in a job that she did not know she was capable of.
“I didn’t know a lot of the things that I thought I knew prior to taking this program,” said Wolfe. “I got my . There’s so much to learn about this stuff and it actually made me more aware that happens in construction sites and with heavy equipment operations. I’ve always wanted do that but I never knew how to get into it.”
The HEO program had a large variety of ages with a good mixture of male and female and over 80% of the students were employed by the end of the program.
“We had some students on the Regina bypass, three employed on Standing Buffalo, one at Muskowekwan and other different places within the region,” said Anita Vincent, the essential skills program coordinator for Parkland College.
The sponsored program is a 3-year agreement between Parkland College, CP-Rail and several different First Nation communities in Treaty 4 territory. The 12 students were from seven different First Nation bands which included Standing Buffalo, Muscowpetung, Muskowekwan, Piapot, Kawacatoose, Pasqua and Cowessess First Nation.
By the end of the program, the students had earned their safety tickets which included First Aid, CPR, H2S Alive, ground disturbance and power mobile equipment. They also received two pieces of certification in heavy equipment. The accreditation came from the Assiniboine Community College for the two pieces of heavy equipment.
“The program is beneficial to all involved because it gives back to the community in some way,” said Vincent. “The students are building the hands-on skills and focus on their in-seat hours on the machinery.”
The program administrators received over 40 applicants but had only enough seats for 12 students. They picked one student from the seven Indigenous communities and based their intake decisions on ensuring the students had their valid driver’s license, that their employment/education history was looked at and they had to pass a drug and alcohol screening. Overall, the program was another successful year of supplying the educational tools to cater to their students.
“We’re very grateful at Parklands for all our partnerships,” she said. “We find that building those bonds and having the support from the leaders within the communities is really what makes it successful.”
Although Wolfe was recently laid off due to the end of the work season, she said she will carry the skills she earned from the program and find related work in the future with her accreditation.
Vincent hopes to run the HEO program next spring again once sponsorship dollars are secured to provide the opportunities to other hopeful applicants.