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Skills & Knowledge

Boart Longyear trains drillers for hot market

Boart Longyear has found one solution to finding qualified and experienced employees. At its eastern Canada headquarters in Haileybury, a new drilling assistant training facility has recently been established.

“There is a shortage of experienced and qualified workers in the industry,” said Bill Krasnozon, operations manager for Canada. “There are more drills available than there are people to staff them so part of what I foresee is if we get good, young people involved in the industry, they can make a career out of it.”

Krasnozon should know. He started with the company 34 years ago as a drill helper and moved through the ranks to driller, foreman and supervisor to where he is today.

“It is a career and not something you get into for three months and then leave the industry,” he said. “We want to put investment in people not just as a drill helper, but to see them advance to something more.”

The surface drilling training area is located in the back of the company’s yard where the classroom and equipment are housed. In addition to a modern drill, a skidder and bulldozer are on-site which students learn to operate. There is also a pump house and a 1,400-foot water line for the drill.

Boart Longyear has operated an underground diamond drill training facility in Levack for five years where it obtains space from the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology Inc. (NORCAT).

“If we have to hire, we have to bring them on mine property to physically train them to do the work and that is hard to do,” he said. “When trucks and equipment are operating, it can be a challenge.”

Gerry Oriet, training and development manager for eastern Canada, said having its own training facility allows the company to broaden the provincial minimum requirements.

“We have the ability to stop the drill and explain the hazards of the job. We are ensuring everyone knows what is being taught and they can ask questions right away. There is also a limit of six per course, which is a better ratio for hands-on training,” he said.

The surface course lasts two weeks and students have a job with the company when they graduate.

“Anyone put through that course is in our employment,” Krasnozon said. “We are paying them to take the course and at the end, they will be taking a job anywhere in Canada. Everybody hired for surface coring will come to Haileybury to train.”

When they leave the training site, the new employees are still training since they join a driller and drill helper team to hone their skills before becoming a helper.

Numerous resumes are received and after reference checks are done, about 10 to 12 candidates are brought to the Haileybury office. There, they sit in front of four or five senior managers where they also learn how their career paths have developed with the company.

“We want to make sure we have made the right choice because it is an investment we are making,” Krasnozon said. “There is a risk and by the time they do their third-man training, we have reached the $14,000 to $15,000 level invested on each person.”

Despite the two training facilities, the company still can’t fit the the need for all its hiring requirements and it does undertake a variety of recruiting initiatives.

“Our goal was to produce a better hire who was more safety-conscientious and to give them a head start before they hit the job and before they are inundated with a new environment,” said Brian Maeck, environmental, health and safety manager for eastern Canada. “The more knowledge they have before going out in the field is better for everyone.”


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