An initiative to enhance the regional workforce and strengthen the economy in the Columbia Basin-Boundary has been launched.
The Kootenay Workforce Development (KWD) is a two-year project that builds on the recommendations of the Kootenay Regional Skills Training Plan that came out of stakeholder roundtables conducted between 2011 and 2013. Funded by Columbia Basin Trust, the KWD looks to operationalize the thorough work done by the plan that was published in May, 2013.
The Kootenay Workforce Development steering committee is a broad cross-section of the regional economy and includes: (front L-R) Leah Bradish (College of the Rockies), Terri MacDonald (Rural Development Institute), Wendy McCulloch (Boundary Community Futures), Carol Currie (KWD Coordinator), Frank Marino (Columbia Power/Committee Chair), Neil Coburn (Selkirk College); (back row L-R) Lisa Kilpatrick (Columbia Basin Trust), Andy Roberts (Mountain Transport Institute), Brian Conrad (KWD Coordinator), Murray McConnachie (School District 20 Trades Coordinator), Brad Pommen (Nelson Technology Club), Kevin Doakes (Unifab), Gregg Neelin (Selkirk College Community Education & Workplace Training Manager). Missing from the photo: Stan Chung (College of the Rockies), Susan Clovechuck (Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce), Steven Thurmeier (Teck Coal), Gregg Ehman (Emcon), Adam Hopper (Panorama Resort), Dave Delong (Zellstoff Celgar), Jaquie Dust (Ktunaxa Nation), Richard Toperczer (Ministry of Jobs, Tourism & Skills Training) and Marlin Ratch (Industry Training Authority).
“The strategy laid out in the Kootenay Regional Skills Training Plan is important to the future of our region,” says Frank Marino, the chairperson of the KWD steering committee. “The committee has the benefit of drawing from the input of a broad cross section of stakeholders from the area which will now guide the work that will benefit our local economy.”
Partnership Between Many Sectors
In line with the provincial government’s BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, over the coming months the KWD will be putting some of the recommendations of the Kootenay Regional Skills Training Plan into action. The goal is to provide proper training programs for the workforce and bolstered support for different sectors that will help grow the regional economy in a more cohesive manner. Through events, pilot projects, inventory development, research and collaboration with stakeholders, the KWD will move forward with identified needs.
The KWD initiative encompasses the East Kootenay, West Kootenay and Boundary region of the province. Led by Selkirk College in collaboration with College of the Rockies, the KWD will be headed by two coordinators and directed by the steering committee comprised of representation from throughout the region including school districts, Columbia Basin Trust, businesses, industries, sectors, government and community.
The recently formed steering committee has identified a number of objectives in the plan’s key goals that will form the focus of activity over the next year. The goals include enhancing and building regional industry/education/community collaboration, promoting training related to small and medium sized enterprises, helping lower-skilled people upgrade and upskill, and continue to ensure that local training is aligned to workforce needs.
“The work to date has provided an important direction for what is to come,” says Carol Currie, KWD Coordinator. “With guidance from the steering committee, we will now be able to spend the next two years providing leadership and support for projects that will have an impact in our communities.”