A new skills training program gets underway this month for First Nations communities in northern B.C. that will help to ensure they benefit from jobs in British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.
The Weaving Our Way program in Fort St. James will provide training to members of four local First Nations to meet the anticipated demand for skilled workers for the developing LNG industry.
The B.C. government is providing $623,000 to the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA) to train members of the Nak’azdli Band, Takla Lake First Nation, Tl’azt’en Nation and Yekooche First Nation. Forty participants, in two intakes of 20 each, will be trained in essential and transferable skills such as computer literacy, math, English, personal development, safety training and work experience preparation.
Completion of the program will give participants a head start in their employment readiness as well as a sound understanding of which jobs are in demand. Starting in January 2016, the training will run for 16 weeks, providing 12 weeks of classroom training and four weeks of work experience. The program will be delivered in Fort St. James.
Funding for the new program comes from the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund, created earlier this year as part of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint. It also supports a BC Jobs Plan goal of ensuring Aboriginal people have access to education and training.
The Province is working with First Nations on other LNG sector opportunities including environmental stewardship projects and pipeline benefits agreements. B.C. has two pipeline benefits agreements with the Yekooche First Nation for the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project and the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project. The Province has also been engaged with the Nak’azdli Band, Takla Lake First Nation, and Tl’azt’en Nation to discuss benefits agreements related to the development of natural gas pipelines in their traditional territories. B.C. has 62 benefits agreements with 29 First Nations.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“I want to ensure that Aboriginal people have a real chance to benefit from B.C.’s LNG opportunity. A key factor to success is providing locally-based and easily accessible skills training programs like this one in Fort St. James. Participants will build strong foundations to build lasting careers and provide security and prosperity for their families in the future.”
Chief John French, Takla Lake First Nation –
“It is important for First Nations to actively take part in industry development projects such as liquefied natural gas. Doing so allows us to capture new economic opportunities and provide community members with skills training that will provide a path towards careers.
“With support from the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association and others, we are moving forward with skills training programs focused at the community level. This ensures our members have transferable skills that can be used for jobs on other large-scale projects, or for other uses, such as starting their own businesses.”
Chief Justa Monk, Tl’azt’en Nation –
“This funding will start to make a difference to the 65% of my community that is under 25. Skills training is really important for their future, not just for LNG but for all the opportunities that will make our community strong. It is up to all of us to get to grips collectively with how we make it count for our young people today so they are ready to get good jobs and raise their families close to home.”
Chief Allan Joseph, Yekooche First Nation –
“Having the right skills for in-demand jobs is really important to the young people of our community. This kind of skills training will give them the knowledge and experience they need to take advantage of the job opportunities coming up in the LNG industry and give their families security in the future.”
Chief Fred Sam, Nak’azdli Band –
“Any training available for our people should be taken full advantage of; it will provide them with career options and possibly push them in furthering their education. This program will enhance their skills, build up their confidence and help them become job ready.”
Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George – Valemont –
“With a growing economy we need to ensure that we have the workforce that will be required and increasing First Nations participation in the labour market is a key part of the strategy. This program will deliver essential skills for job readiness.”
Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George – Mackenzie –
“This is great news for our local First Nations and for our wider communities. Our developing LNG industry is going to be a huge economic driver for B.C. and I’m delighted that we’re taking such a proactive approach to skills training to make sure we give people the right tools to make sure they get good jobs for the future.”
Karin Hunt, executive director, Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association –
“’Weaving Our Way’ is a collaborative initiative designed through a unique partnership between Nak’azdli, Tla'zt’en, Yekooche Takla Lake First Nations and PGNAETA to develop a prepared and talented workforce for today’s labour market. ‘Weaving our Way’ will incorporate customized traditional cultural teaching into employment and career readiness. Ultimately, graduates will have been prepared for access to cross sectoral employment opportunities.”
- More than 40,000 Aboriginal British Columbians live in northern communities and almost half of all Aboriginal people in B.C. are under 25 years old.
- B.C. is investing up to $10 million annually over the next three years in new funding from the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund to support skills training focused on First Nations communities poised to benefit from LNG development.
- A key target of the B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint is to increase Aboriginal workforce participation by 15,000 new Aboriginal workers over the next 10 years.
- The BC Jobs Plan builds on the strengths of key sectors and British Columbia’s educated and skilled workforce, keeping the province diverse, strong and growing.
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: https://www.workbc.ca/WorkBC/media/WorkBC/Documents/Docs/Booklet_BCsBlueprint_web_140428.pdf
BC Jobs Plan: http://www.engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/
Nak’azdli Band: http://www.nakazdli.ca/
Takla Lake First Nation: http://www.taklafn.ca/
Tl’azt’en Nation: http://tlaztennation.ca/
Yekooche First Nation: http://www.yekooche.com/