At a mining conference that put an emphasis on the importance of attracting more young people to the mining industry, one local high school took the initiative to bring several students out to see what mining has to offer.
The event at Science North was the Mine Operators and Maintenance Engineers conference, hosted by the Sudbury branch of CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum). It was held Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Teacher Christopher Dinnes of Lively District Secondary School said he was pleased to see how welcoming it was for the young people, especially at the trade show where the students met scores of representatives from technical companies and mining supply firms.
Dinnes said his students were learning a lot about career opportunities.
"And I think it's a little bit eye opening to see what's happening here. And I know there have been some of the exhibitors here that are saying, come see me, we have work for you starting whenever you want," said the teacher.
Dinnes said Lively District Secondary has a Specialist High Skills Major program focussed on mining. He said it only makes sense to take advantage of what is being offered by all facets of the mining industry in Sudbury.
"So for mining specifically, we're encouraging students, depending on their goals, their pathways after high school. If they're university bound, we make sure they're taking the right courses, like STEM (science technology engineering mathematics)," said Dinnes.
"If they're an apprenticeship-bound or a technical-bound student, some of the shop classes are highly encouraged, along with the sciences and the physics and that kind of stuff that is going to be required for that pathway."
Dinnes said the mining major has been a program at Lively Secondary for about 15 years. He said in recent years, he has found that more students are getting interested.
“You know, in the past, I've seen some not great participation,” he said. “Mining wasn't exciting for whatever reason, you know. Especially when there's a slowdown in the economy, kids aren't really thinking that way, or their parents aren't encouraging it. But I think we're starting to see that change.”
Dinnes said there is a payoff. He said there are no hard numbers available but he knows the program works.
"We don't really have data on what happens to kids after, but I live in the same area where I teach. So I often run into kids. And I know as far as trades related stuff, we have a really good uptake. So kids are getting involved with those kinds of careers.”
From his point of view as a teacher, Dinnes said a favourite part of the job is to see a student succeed.
"Absolutely, one hundred per cent,” he said. “And that's probably one of the best parts of my job. Even kids you kind of wonder about, like they struggle in school, yeah they find things. And a lot of it is mining-related. And they're super happy; and they have a great job and a career."
Len Gillis covers mining and health care for Sudbury.com.