Boat yards in the province will soon be better equipped to handle increasing demand for Nova Scotian vessels. The province has established boat building as a designated trade, which will provide a clear learning path for aspiring boat builders and training standards for the industry. “Nova Scotia’s boat builders are known throughout the world for building safe, seaworthy boats, and we want to attract more people to this thriving industry,” said Education Minister Jamie Muir. “As demand for Nova Scotia-built vessels increases, the boat-building industry needs more workers to fill orders. We’re responding with a customized apprenticeship program and by introducing provincewide standards for boat-building professionals.” Since 1998, sales in the Nova Scotia boat-building industry have increased from $50 million to $85 million. During this time, employment in the industry grew from 550 to 800 full-time, year-round positions, with an additional 250 positions available in support industries. In April, the Department of Education and the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association announced plans to begin using apprenticeship training materials from the New Zealand Boating Industry Training Organization. The materials are currently being customized for Nova Scotia boat yards. To date, there are 24 industry mentors signed on to implement the industry training plan in 12 boat yards across the province. “There is growing demand in the U.S. for fine pleasure boats based on proven Nova Scotia hull designs,” said Tim Edwards, executive director, Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association. “This new market, along with the continued demand for safe, practical working boats for the fishery, means the need for skilled craftspeople in Nova Scotia’s boat-building industry is growing every day. Trade designation means we can introduce a specific training path for apprentices and provides us with a regulatory framework to ensure consistency in our industry.” After 15 years as a residential carpenter in Yarmouth, Fraser Challoner was one of 32 people to register for the Nova Scotia apprenticeship boat-building pilot program last September. Mr. Challoner works at Wedgeport Boats. “The pilot program was launched just as I was looking for new career options. It meant I didn’t have to put my life on hold to learn the trade,” said Mr. Challoner. “It was a big change to go from building houses to building lobster boats, because nothing is square and nothing is level. Building boats focuses more on angles and curves, and we work on the electrical and fibreglass components, which is new and interesting for me.” For a trade to become designated, industry must apply to the Provincial Apprenticeship Board, which reviews the request and invites public consultation before making a recommendation to government. Designated trades are regulated by the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act and general regulations. Under this act, government works with industry to provide formal training and issue a certificate of qualification to apprentices who complete a training program. The Department of Education’s role in apprenticeship training and trade designation is part of the government’s Skills Nova Scotia initiative. That initiative is dedicated to building Nova Scotia’s skilled workforce by providing education and training opportunities. More information about Skills Nova Scotia and copies of the recent annual report and action plan are available on the website at http://skillsnovascotia.ednet.ns.ca .
EPC-UK, a market leader in the manufacture, storage and distribution of commercial explosives, will be “bringing the blast to life” at this year’s Hillhead, thanks to the latest Augmented Reality technology. A combination of Virtual Reality and the real world, Augmented Reality (AR) takes the form of live video imagery, which is enhanced with computer generated graphics, immersing the user in a specific environment – for example in a quarry whilst a blast is being conducted. The state-of-the-art technology also adds labels, captions and other helpful overlays to the user’s view, making it an ideal teaching tool.“Augmented Reality is a way of placing a person in a situation they would not normally be able to experience. By bringing it to Hillhead, we hope to engage visitors within the quarrying environment and get a true feel for what we do,” explains Ben Williams, Managing Director of EPC-UK.“However, AR is not just for entertainment. It has a number of practical applications, the most important of which is training. Within our industry it is extremely difficult to realistically recreate certain scenarios, from both an economical and safety standpoint. However, AR is changing this. It is enabling us to take learning out of the classroom and into the quarry – virtually.“There are limitations, but AR will allow students to learn at their own pace, giving them the ability to rewind training videos to help aid the retention of information,” adds Williams. Alongside the AR demonstrations, EPC-UK will also be showcasing its innovative EPC-Metrics service. Launched last year, the service, developed in partnership with Datum Monitoring Services, aims to facilitate the immediate access of event data, via state-of-the-art fixed monitoring stations, removing the need to travel to and from a monitoring location, and the time-consuming manual download of results in the field.The advanced monitoring stations incorporate a GSM modem for wireless data transmission, together with the option for solar power, enabling the service to be used even in the most remote of locations. “We have been successfully providing traditional blast monitoring services for a while, but EPC-Metrics takes this offering to another level,” continues Williams. “A fixed monitoring location provides a consistent point of reference for reliable results, whilst the real-time transmission of data saves our customers both time and resources as they no longer have to produce this information on site.“The service offers users a more efficient way of monitoring blast vibration and air over-pressure, aiding the tracking of compliance and providing a greater understanding of site characteristics.”EPC-UK will also be announcing a series of new training programmes, from ‘Environmental Management in Blasting’ and ‘Geology for Blasting’ to ‘Managing the Blast Site’ and ‘Explosives Legislations for Senior Managers’. These industry leading courses have been specifically designed for the industry, encouraging continuous professional development within the sector and attracting new talent.“Our industry is constantly evolving and, as such, so are we. We have already moved away from playing a purely manufacturing role to becoming a full-service provider and our investment in innovative technology, such as AR, is a demonstration of this.“We are excited to be showcasing this technology at the industry’s foremost event and look forward to bringing the blast to life for our visitors,” concludes Williams.