Reducing barriers and enhancing access to training and jobs is behind a new partnership with the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres that will serve more than 1,000 Aboriginal people over the next three years.
The B.C. government is investing $2 million over three years in a skills training project to support Aboriginal people in urban communities in northern B.C. The project will be administered by the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres as part of the association’s Five by Five Aboriginal Jobs Strategy.
The target population for the project includes urban, off-reserve Aboriginal individuals in Prince Rupert, Prince George, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Terrace and Smithers, including members of surrounding First Nations who live or access resources off-reserve.
A key component of the project is to establish Five by Five employment centres in seven Aboriginal Friendship Centres across the North. The centres will act as hubs that connect people to employment-related services. Located in urban areas along the liquefied natural gas (LNG) corridor, the centres will provide a range of pre-employment services that support job readiness.
Job placement co-ordinators will provide support to the centres and develop employment advancement and job plans to assist urban Aboriginal people in finding stable employment and economic independence. The co-ordinators will build relationships with local employers, industry and surrounding First Nations to connect urban Aboriginal people to relevant training and in-demand jobs.
The project is funded through B.C.’s Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund. Introduced in 2015, it will provide up to $10 million annually over three years for Aboriginal skills training, primarily in northern B.C.
Offering community-driven skills training is one part of the Province’s efforts to include First Nations communities and Aboriginal people in new LNG sector opportunities. B.C. is also working with First Nations communities on environmental stewardship priorities and benefits agreements.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“With the vast majority of Aboriginal people living off-reserve and in urban areas, we need to tailor more skills training programs to meet their needs, especially in northern B.C. where the emerging LNG industry will create thousands of new direct and indirect jobs. We want more Aboriginal people to benefit from those jobs, and this project will help to ensure that happens.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour –
“B.C. is projected to remain one of Canada’s economic leaders in the next two years. Almost half of Aboriginal people in our province are under the age of 25. As such, they are a critical part of the required workforce. Initiatives like this will provide Aboriginal people with the skills training and work experience necessary to find their fit in our diverse, strong and growing economy.”
Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie –
“Aboriginal people will play a critical role in helping to meet labour demand in this region. This skills training project will ensure more Aboriginal people benefit from the prosperity and employment opportunities that LNG development is bringing to northern B.C.
Paul Lacerte, executive director, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) –
“The BCAAFC has partnered with the B.C. government ensuring that urban Aboriginals in B.C.’s North have the opportunities and skills needed to participate in the wide range of jobs that will benefit all of our communities. This skills training project will help do that and provide significant benefits for participants and their families who live and are moving to urban communities. We see this as a time of renewed commitment to Aboriginal people living in B.C.’s North.”
- Aboriginal people are identified as a priority in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint.
- In British Columbia, 78% of all Aboriginal people live off-reserve.
- 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.
- A key target of the B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint is to increase Aboriginal workforce participation by 15,000 new Aboriginal workers by 2024.
- This aligns with the mission of the B.C. Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), which is to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people by providing a holistic service base model that meets the unique needs of Aboriginal clients.
- With over 1,000 staff provincewide throughout 25 agencies, B.C. Aboriginal Friendship Centres interact with over 1,300 Aboriginal people on a daily basis.
- The BCAAFC’s Five by Five Aboriginal Jobs Strategy aims to establish employment opportunities for 5,000 Aboriginal people in urban communities within five years.
- To keep British Columbia’s economy diverse, strong and growing, since September 2011, the BC Jobs Plan has been building on the strengths of B.C.’s most-competitive sectors, utilizing the province’s educated and skilled workforce.
British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres: http://www.bcaafc.com/
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: http://bit.ly/22jHF0a
BC Jobs Plan: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/