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  • Kyle Bolt

Launch of Enhanced Co-Op Program for Heavy-Equipment Operating

An enhanced co-op program will provide high school students more hands-on learning experience in operating heavy equipment. The program is the result of a partnership involving the anglophone sector of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, and the New Brunswick Road Builders Association.

“This program will encourage students who are interested in skilled trades to get a head start on their future through experiential learning,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Bill Hogan. “Increasing experiential learning opportunities builds on the government’s promise of providing all students with a world-class education system, allowing them to reach their full potential.”

The anglophone sector already has three enhanced co-op programs that include courses, an onsite placement and earning a certificate of completion. These programs are in fields with high labour market demands, such as the long-term care and early childhood learning sectors, allowing students to gain greater confidence and either prepare for the workforce or further their education in a particular field.

“With many skilled-trades people leaving the workforce over the next few years, it is critical that we encourage our youth to step up and fill the void left by those who are retiring now and, in the future,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “By supporting initiatives such as this co-op program, we are ensuring we continue to have the skilled workers that New Brunswick needs.”

The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour contributed $150,000 to the New Brunswick Road Builders Association who invested $300,000 in the program by designing and donating a mobile classroom.

“The mobile simulator training centre will provide high school students across the province with an introduction to heavy-equipment operating as a viable career option, while expanding their learning experiences,” said association president Randy Chase. “Given the high demand for workers in these lines of work, it is important to attract youth to this industry. This course will help prepare students for a viable career after they graduate.”

The first three weeks of the course involve classroom work, including resumé writing and cover letter preparation. The following six weeks take place in a mobile classroom on the school’s property. Each student will have their own simulator to learn how to operate skid steers, backhoes and wheel loaders. The final nine weeks of the semester are spent in the field, practicing what they have learned.

Woodstock High School will host the mobile classroom for the remainder of the school year. It will then move each semester to schools around the province.

Hogan said the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will continue to seek opportunities and partnerships to encourage and strengthen experiential learning for students.

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