Friday, Dec. 8, 2023
NNDSB teachers mining for student career opportunities
A group of Near North District School Board (NNDSB) and Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board (NPSCDSB) educators donned their hard hats and safety vests to get an eye-opening look into the world of mining at a recent professional development opportunity.
The initiative, in collaboration with The Canadian Ecology Centre and Mining Matters, saw educators tour Redpath Mining facilities in North Bay and engage in an earth science and mineral resources instructional development workshop. The goal of the day’s activities was to bring awareness about how vast the mining industry is and how it has direct impacts on local industry and employment opportunities. Educators will then pass this knowledge along to their students.
Lesley Hymers, manager of education and outreach programs with Mining Matters said, “There is a lack of awareness of modern mining and the wide range of careers that are available in the sector. Skilled trades are in high demand in the mining industry. There are many opportunities for youth in the near north to work where they live or work abroad, earn a good living, and enjoy an outdoor lifestyle.”
While touring Redpath facilities, educators were able to speak with many different tradespeople about their personal pathways to the industry and how they can encourage their students to explore the broad range of career opportunities the mining industry has to offer.
“There are more than 150 jobs in the mining industry including in the skilled trades, engineering, science and technology, construction, management, community and safety and environment and earth sciences,” Hymers said.
Kevin Baker, tech-ed instructor and mining specialist high skills major (SHSM) lead at Northern Secondary School, said he is interested in any opportunity to learn about career pathways for students.
“This particular opportunity focused on a leading industry in North Bay. Many people are unaware of how much mining is implanted in the North Bay area. Northern Secondary School began offering a SHSM program in mining two and a half years ago, and I am still learning about the mining industry and these opportunities present a bunch of new learnings,” Baker said.
Baker feels that getting out in the community and learning about local businesses is important.
“It provides opportunities to develop community partnerships, enables us to learn of their needs, and helps us present and create material that our students may apply to future employment opportunities,” Baker said. “I use what I learn from these opportunities to create projects and activities which enable students to develop skills our community needs.”
After touring two different Redpath sites, the group participated in a Mining Matters instructional development workshop. Here, they learned about the Mining Matters organization and the teacher training and school programs that are available. Educators also learned about the life cycle of a mine, undertook a geological mapping and data interpretation activity, participated in hands-on learning connecting minerals and elements to everyday products, and connecting job descriptions and training.
“The workshop was well received. Teachers have reached out to me directly seeking additional materials and resources and to deliver content to their students,” Hymers said. “Teachers will have access to a folder of electronic resources that will include a series of earth science and minerals resources hands-on learning activities and resources that they can implement in their classrooms.”
“Currently, our workforce is experiencing a shortage of skilled tradespeople. I was a licensed journeyperson myself for 30 years before moving into teaching,” Baker said. “One of the reasons I turned to this profession was to teach about the trades and help students develop some of the transferable skills skilled trades workers use daily. Not all students want to pursue post-secondary educational pathways. The skilled trades provide directions for these students.”
To learn more about specialist high skills majors and the trades pathways available to NNDSB students visit the Near North District School Board website.