Canadian Natural is supporting students to acquire hands-on, practical training that will prepare them for future careers in the oil and natural gas industry through our contribution to the Northern Lights Public Schools (formerly Northern Lights School Division, NLSD). Northern Lights, located in Northeast Alberta, offers a new Trades Exposure Training Program that targets high school students and prepares them with a foundation to pursue a journeyman career path.
The new centre opened in April 2015 and features a service rig training facility on a well and a scaffolding shop and classroom space, where participants can gain practical experience. The program is set up to mimic authentic working conditions to give students a better understanding of what they can expect in future industry careers. This alternative to a standard curriculum gives students an opportunity to discover the trades, and students are taught through a mixture of hands-on work at the service rig training centre and the accompanying “Orientation to Service Rigs” course.
This project came to fruition with support from Western Economic Diversification, industry and local companies. Canadian Natural has contributed to the course “Orientation to Service Rigs”, and funded the majority of the costs associated with the drilling of the well. “Canadian Natural is proud to be involved in this project that will enhance the employability of the upcoming local workforce,” said Andy Astalos, Operations Superintendent, Bonnyville Operations.
Future plans for the facility include further trades-related programming, including online programs for remote education opportunities. Northern Lights also announced partnerships with the Tribal Chiefs Employment and Training Services Association, North East Alberta Apprenticeship Initiative and Trade Winds to Success Training Society to expand its training opportunities to adults.
The Trades Exposure Program is a prime example of local organizations and community partners coming together to provide an innovative learning experience for the next generation of oil and gas workers in Alberta. Students who complete the course will enter the work force with a strong foundation of trades-based knowledge and the tools to pursue entry level industry positions. Annually, 1,350 students from Cold Lake to Wandering River have the opportunity to experience the program, including students from Cold Lake First Nations, Elizabeth Métis Settlement, Kehewin First Nations, Heart Lake First Nations, Beaver Lake First Nations, and Kikino Métis Settlement.