Valer-Vale officially opened their newly renovated education and training building on June 19.
The $1 million renovation fills Vale’s need for more space and classrooms for miner training. The facility features three new classrooms as well as an IT classroom.
Vale’s $1 million mining simulator is also housed at the facility; the renovations and resources will help ease in the transition of Vale’s surface workers to underground operations.
The name Valer-Vale is representative of the company’s training facilities, with Valer as the name for the corporate university. Timing for the development and opening of the facility couldn’t have worked out better says Glen Laycock, Vale superintendent of learning and development. “Steve Ball from the corporate office came to me about 16 months ago and asked what do I want to do and I told him that we need to make more room for all of these people, whether it’s the transitional workers or new hires,” said Laycock.
Close to a year ago, at a meeting at Vale’s corporate office in Toronto, Ball approached Lovro Paulic, general manager responsible for the smelter and refinery at Manitoba Operations, with an idea, that Paulic admittedly thought wasn’t too much more than a pipe dream initially but was proud that it was seen through.
“At first I thought this might have just been another idea from corporate office that I don’t really think is going to happen, but I’m going to help Steve (Ball) out as much as I can,” said Paulic, “a lot of visions can happen and fade. This is a stake in the ground, we’re not doing this to be here for the next two years, we’re here for the long term.”
Ball, a former corporate affairs spokesman with Vale’s Ontario Operations in Sudbury, who now works with Vale as head of talent management and people development, was in Thompson for the grand opening of Valer-Vale training centre.
“We at Vale believe that learning and development is one of the fundamentals for developing people and developing our employees,” said Ball, “to foster that culture of learning there’s a number of things that are part of that philosophy is having a great place to learn. If we don’t have buildings that inspire people to learn, then it kind of defeats the purpose.”
Ball had been in Thompson a year ago and saw the facility that was being used and was baffled as to how anyone was able to learn anything in the former facility.
One of the factors in Vale being able to renovate and create such a facility was that much of the space used was pre-existing structure that was being misused or wasted.
“The whole new area used to be offices and was just too much space being wasted,” said Laycock, “I had an office there that was too big, so now that space is being put to better use.”
The completion of a world-class learning facility will help with the future of Vale in Thompson, in being able to train more miners and from that create more supervisors. Paulic, manager of surface operations, says that with this facility, Vale greatly improves their ability to attract employees.
“It’s not a retention issue, but an attraction issue,” said Paulic, whose sentiments were echoed by Laycock.
“We want to get kids to think about Vale, and at the same time with us adding this facility, we’re making a statement that we want to be part of the north and Thompson,”
Vale employees going through the training program at Valer-Vale will spend at least three weeks on theory and classroom work before they are classified as mine beginners and are able to go underground.
There are plans for bringing in employees from outlying communities as well through the development of a distance-training program offered by Valer-Vale