Resource sector seeks to hire students

For Yukon College students looking to work for a mine or an environmental monitoring company, the Coast High Country Inn and Conference Centre was the place to be earlier this week.

For Yukon College students looking to work for a mine or an environmental monitoring company, the Coast High Country Inn and Conference Centre was the place to be earlier this week.

Two dozen companies set up booths at the fourth annual Yukon First Nations Resource Conference and Student Job Fair, which ran Tuesday and Wednesday. For student Tom Mcleod, it was the perfect place to look for a summer job.

“It went pretty well. I went to all the mining companies and asked if they had any environmental monitoring jobs open. I have some experience in that. Everyone was very receptive and welcoming, and I got some resumes handed out,” Mcleod said.

Mcleod is in his second year of study at Yukon College, focusing on biology and environmental science. Landing a job in that field would be a big boost to his career.

It’s not the first job fair Mcleod has been to. He grew up in Aklavik, N.W.T., attended a job fair there, but it was only attended by a handful of mining companies, he said.

At the Whitehorse fair, there were non-profits, environmental monitoring companies and, of course, the big names in mining as well.

“Some of the mines look very promising with the environmental monitoring jobs they are offering,” Mcleod said.

Cris Guppy was on the receiving end of the resumes. He works with Ecofor, one of the environmental monitoring companies that is looking to hire a lot of summer staff this year.

“It varies from year to year. This year we’re taking on a lot, especially in northern B.C. because of a big project down there – the Spectra gas pipeline. We’re doing about three-quarters of the fish inventory work for that,” Guppy said.

“There are some very good students out there. There was one that was interested in doing archeology technician-type work. It’s all fieldwork that we hire for,” he said.

Ecofor isn’t the only company looking to pick up more student workers this summer. Conference organizer Jerry Asp said that this summer could see a huge boost in the resource sector, and that means more jobs for more Yukoners.

“I don’t know how high the percentage last year or this year will be. There was a serious downturn in mining exploration because of China. But I understand that India is having a major push for development. If that’s true, you can be assured there will be a big demand for more resources,” he said.

Asp said two years ago, in the midst of the Yukon resource boom, the job fair netted around two-dozen jobs for students directly, with another 20 promised positions upon graduation.

Right now the biggest push is for qualified trades workers, something that Asp said the territory is well positioned to respond to.

“We’re working very closely with Yukon College to make sure that we align our training with our territorial jobs needs,” he said.

Part of the collaboration is the new mobile trades trailer that Yukon College just secured funding for. It will be towed behind a tractor trailer and visit all of the Yukon’s remote road-accessed communities to teach trades like welding, electrical work and pipe fitting.

The federal government announced more funding and support for trades-specific training in its 2013 federal budget, something else that Asp said will be a big help in preparing the territory’s young workers for life in the industrial sector. Specifically, there will be allotments for First Nations trades and skills training, as well as more money to support Yukon College’s Centre for Northern Innovation and Mining, all things that Asp said will go a long way to helping the territory’s young workers meet the needs of the mining sector job market.

“Absolutely, it will help,” said Asp, who is also chair of the Yukon Mine Training Association. “We just secured $2 million in funding for aboriginal inclusion, so I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

Contact Jesse Winter at