Junior high and high school students as well as the general public had a chance to find out more about what goes on underground and at the surface during Vale Manitoba Operations’ career day on April 27.
Held at the Thompson Regional Community Centre with the morning and early afternoon reserved for Grade 8 to Grade 12 students before opening to the public for the last two hours, the event was aimed at shining a headlamp onto all the possible occupations that exist with Vale in Thompson.
“We have a variety of careers at Vale, everything of course from being an underground miner to being a trades professional,” said Melissa-Mae Ducharme, Vale Manitoba Operations human resources manager. “We have chemists, we have our health and safety team, we have engineers, geologists. We even have our HR team.”
More than just people talking about their jobs to students and adults, the career day featured activities for the various occupations that were showcased.
“Each department created an activity to be able to give the students a hands-on learning experience of what it might be like to work in that particular field,” said Ducharme.
With some positions at the mine currently open and more expected to be available in the coming years as older members of Thompson workforce retire, Ducharme says the goal is to inspire those who might be interested to pursue an education that could land them at job at the mine a few years from now.
“We’re starting that talent pipeline building now,” Ducharme said. “This a real move for us to be proactive in building talent.”
Holding the event, the first of its kind by Vale Canada for several years, in Thompson was intended to help the company recruit more new employees locally.
“We want to attract from the community versus from afar if we can,” said Ducharme. “That’s really important to us.”
It’s also important to Warren Luky, president of United Steelworkers Local 6166, which represents about 550 hourly workers at Vale’s Thompson operations.
The union had a table at the event, filling in interested participants on what type of jobs its members do and how it works to secure them the best employment conditions.
“You get a really good window into a world that’s closed to most people,” he said. “Vale doesn’t do tours anymore. Even when you have a parent that works there, they don’t know all aspects of the job. The opportunity for people to see that, what’s available here for a future, is really good for us, to get out there and actually encourage people to stay in Thompson. Kids actually get to see that they could have a future here and there’s a lot of different options for them to work in, too.”
As far as the union is concerned, it’s a very good time for people to get into trades and it has been that way for the past decade at least. Luky also says having local people work permanent jobs in Thompson is preferable to them being done by contractors.
“We have grievances in for the contractors,” he said.
Key players behind the event included Stephanie Keough, Ducharme said, as well as Arany Navaratnarajah from Vale’s corporate office.
“She can take this experience and bring it to our other operations across Canada and duplicate the event, and elsewhere in our business,” Ducharme said.