Heavy metal local students rock

Darcy Chetcuti from Kwalikum Secondary School drives a mini excavator during the first Heavy Metal Rocks event in Cassidy last week. - SUBMITTED PHOTO/STEPHEN STAHLEY
Darcy Chetcuti from Kwalikum Secondary School drives a mini excavator during the first Heavy Metal Rocks event in Cassidy last week.

Thirty-two Grade 11 and 12 students from School Districts 69 and 68 spent three days digging, grading, bulldozing and generally making things move with heavy equipment last week in Cassidy.

Local students Jasper Edge, Darcy Chetcuti, Robert Knapp, Joe Finnigan, Derek Chevrefils, Ryan Hollingworth and Teigan Favarger were interested in learning more about careers in construction trades (including heavy equipment operation) and jumped at the chance to participate in the first Heavy Metal Rocks event held on Vancouver Island.

The event was organized through a unique partnership involving Vancouver Island University’s Trades and Applied Technology department, School Districts 68 and 69, Vancouver Island Construction Association and WorkSafe B.C.

Students rotated through 16 different equipment stations and were introduced to heavy machinery including a variety of excavators, loaders, articulating rock trucks, backhoes, bulldozers and graders.  Machines ranged from existing equipment at the VIU training site to brand-new units loaned from industry suppliers just for the Heavy Metal Rocks event.  At each station, an experienced equipment operator mentored the students on the machine operation, safety and capabilities.

“All these partners joined forces for the first time to show young people that careers in construction trades are a viable and lucrative option in today’s job market,” said Kellie Spence of VIU.

Heavy Metal Rocks participants received a free, eight-hour online course in Construction Safety Training (CSTS), which normally costs $75.

“This program and certification will all look great on students’ resumes,” said Spence. “Employers in the north have told me that seeing Heavy Metal Rocks on a resume holds a lot of weight with them when they review job applications.”

Greg Baynton, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association added:  “The B.C. Construction labour force requirements is forecast to rise an estimated 44,000 positions will need to be filled during forecast period.  Twenty-four thousand of these positions will be new apprentice entrants, and up to 20 per cent of them on Vancouver Island.  Events like Heavy Metal Rocks Nanaimo are crucial to exposing Vancouver Island youth to the fabulous opportunities in the construction industry.”

Each student was also provided with appropriate safety gear for the three-day event Courtesy of Worksafe B.C.

— Submitted by Stephen Stahley, career education coordinator


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