WorkBC helps Vernon woman get back into the job market

'I'll never be unemployed'

After years working as a heavy equipment operator in a mining camp, Diliah Quigley knew she needed a change.

“My son wanted me to quit going to camp and to spend more time at home in the Okanagan,” said Quigley who set her sights on securing employment closer to where she lived.

She had the ability to operate heavy equipment, but she lacked the official license to do so

Quigley found a position rebuilding hydraulic cylinders in Lumby which she held for more than a year before she was laid off due to industry decline.

“When I started looking for work here, I knew I’d have to start from the ground up,” said Quigley.

But there was a challenge: every heavy equipment operator position required at least a Class 3 license — a problem she didn’t face on private mine sites where public access is restricted.

“I was turned down from positions quite a few times because I didn’t have my Class 3,” she said. “As a grader operator at the mine, I didn’t need a license. I was able to operate due to my years of experience.”

Less than a month after being laid off from Nagy Cylinder Rebuilding, a Class 1 course was about to start in Kelowna. Quigley reached out to WorkBC and enrolled in the Project-Based Labour Market Training Program.

“The help of WorkBC was invaluable. They paid for the course and assisted with fuel and other expenses while I focused on training,” said Quigley. “I’ve already sent a few people to WorkBC and the team that helped me. WorkBC can help with schooling and finding a direction or a career path. And they help keep you going along the way.”

Fuelled by the support of friends, family, and WorkBC, Quigley began the driving course in January 2020.

“I was one of three students who received their Class 1 license before ICBC closed due to the pandemic,” said Quigley. “Sadly, not all 15 of us were able to take the driving test.”

As soon as she received her Class 1 she put it to good use.

“Right off the bat, I went to my hometown, Williams Lake, to help with the flooding. As an equipment operator, I worked on a pipeline compressor expansion project and hauled to the flood sites. Having my Class 1 really made me an asset.”

Heavy equipment, gravel trucks, and semi-trucks — that’s the image Quigley conjured in her mind while in school.

“When I was taking the course, I would talk to my boyfriend’s mom. She was a school bus driver and encouraged me to give it a try. I just said, ‘No. It’s not for me,’” says Quigley. “Then, last September, a friend called. There was an opening to drive a school bus, and it was mine if I wanted it. I took it, and I absolutely love it.”

While bus drivers require a Class 2 license, Quigley can operate any vehicle other than a motorcycle as a Class 1 driver.

“I really got in with the school at the right time. Now, I feel like I’m set for life. But, if something doesn’t work out, I have so much to fall back on,” says Quigley.

“I’ll never be unemployed again, and that’s a great feeling.”

Looking for job search assistance or skills training? Contact the WorkBC Centre in Vernon at 250-545-2215 ext. 230 or visit workbccentre-vernon.ca for more information.

More Vernon News