MTO training starts to pay off

“The numbers really are incredible,” executive director says


Every week in every hamlet, for the past two and a half years, the Municipal Training Organization has been setting up classrooms and delivering much needed training courses to hamlet workers – and communities are starting to see the positive effects.

In 2000/2001, eight of Nunavut’s hamlets were operating in deficit, but last year, that number dropped to four.

And last year, only one hamlet – Igloolik – ran into a financial crisis.

The MTO’s executive director, Chuck Gilhuly, says there are a number of reasons for the improved financial situation among Nunavut hamlets, but says he believes that training staff has had an impact.

“The numbers are really incredible,” he said.

For example, 117 students completed the Introduction to Northern Government course between April and December last year. Former NWT Premier Dennis Patterson was one of the instructors. In November, he described his students as “incredibly motivated.”

That class is just one of five core courses that hamlet workers complete towards the Municipal Government Certificate Program.

One and a half years after starting the program in September 2004, the MTO is almost finished with the core courses, and has started in on advanced courses specific to hamlet management workers, including recreation leaders, economic development officers, finance officers, assistant senior administrative officers, planning and land administrators, and municipal works foremen and office administrators.

While delivering the courses, the MTO is building an arsenal of textbooks – actually, photocopied manuals – that will remain as reference guides in the communities, in English and Inuktitut.

The books are updated after each course, based on student feedback.

In addition to the certificate courses, the MTO delivers hands-on training to water and sewage truck drivers and heavy equipment operators.

In two and a half years, the MTO has helped 285 people, not all of whom are hamlet workers, earn Class 3 air brake drivers’ licence, or improve their driving skills.

When spaces are available, course seats are opened up to communities members. The MTO advertises the courses on television two weeks before coming into a community.

In some communities, participants have translated their training into new jobs. The class had to be repeated in Arctic Bay and Baker Lake, after their first group of students were hired by the Nanisivik clean-up in Arctic Bay, and by the mine just North of Baker Lake.

Firefighting training is another big part of the MTO.

Between April and December last year, they trained 45 people in general firefighting, 25 in fire fighting Level One and 32 in firefighting Level Two. Last year was the first time a fire fighting Level Two course was ever offered in Nunavut.

In addition to practical education, the MTO encourages people to go back to school and continue their education.

They keep records of all students, and are getting ready to send out the lastest “participant updates” to remind people know what classes they’ve finished, and which they still need to take to complete their certificates.

Those who complete the certificates in their job can go on to earn a diploma in public administration, human resources or management studies from Arctic College.

The MTO applies strict standards to students. Students who don’t show up for classes received warning letters, and are eventually thrown out of the course. When that happens, the hamlet they work for doesn’t get reimbursed for the student’s tuition fees.

Gilhuly admits the expectations are high, but said that’s the way to get results.

“The amount of trouble we’ve had is negligible.”

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