Mike Gouchie knows the music business - and now he knows the LNG pipeline industry as well.
A member of the Lheidl T’enneh First Nation, Mike has toured with country music stars like George Jones. As a singer/songwriter, his recordings have been named “Country Album of the Year”, “Aboriginal Recording of the Year”, and “Album of the Year” by the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.
Despite his early success, Mike, now 49, knew music wasn’t providing enough money to pay the bills and support his family. A single father with four children, he was also working as a construction labourer and struggling to make ends meet. “I was just trying to keep my head above water,” he says of that time.
A serious car accident put Mike’s life on hold with a traumatic brain injury and some thought he’d never be able to work again. Determined to succeed despite his setbacks, Mike enrolled in a seven-week course at Okanagan College where he earned the entry-level credentials needed to begin work in the oil and gas industry. After completing this, he moved to Saskatchewan and worked as an equipment operator in 2013-14.
Mike returned home to B.C., taking courses in pipeline construction and sideboom operation at O’Brien Training Ltd. in Prince George. This was followed by Environmental Technician and Electrofishing Certificates through Vancouver Island University, which landed him a position in that field over the summer of 2014. All courses were government-funded and provided through PTP ASEP, the Pacific Trail Pipeline Aboriginal Skills to Employment Partnership.
Today, Mike has his own business (Noostel Enviro & Safety Ltd.) and is proud to work as a permanent contractor and environmental specialist for a company that specializes in designing, building and maintaining trenchless pipelines for the oil and gas industry.
Mike is confident there is a bright future ahead for him and other First Nations members as the LNG industry continues to develop. He knows that skills training, coupled with hard work, perseverance and a never-give-up attitude are the keys to success.
“Thanks to the skills training I’ve received - and through my new business — I want to help provide good-paying jobs for First Nations people and ensure that LNG development here in the North is environmentally sustainable,” says Mike today.
Ensuring Aboriginal workers like Mike get the job training they need is a key goal of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, which aims to add 15,000 Aboriginal workers to the provincial workforce over the next 10 years. In the years ahead, First Nations members throughout the North will play a vital part in helping to meet B.C.’s labour market needs in the emerging LNG sector.
- Aboriginal people are a priority in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint.
- By 2022, one million job openings are expected in the B.C. labour market. A scenario with five LNG plants operating in B.C. would add an additional 100,000 jobs by 2023.
- More than 78% of future jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 43% will be in trades and technical occupations.
- More than 40,000 Aboriginal British Columbians live in northern communities and almost half of all Aboriginal people in B.C. are under the age of 25 years.
- The participation of Aboriginal people in skills training programs is critical to the economic success of B.C. as a whole.
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and First Nations (Factsheet): http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/aboriginal-relations-and-reconciliation/factsheets/jobs-blueprint-and-first-nations.html
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation