Community-driven skills training programs supported by the British Columbia government are making a real difference in the lives of a growing number of First Nations members.
Launched in 2015, the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund provides $30 million in skills-training funding over three years to assist First Nations communities in benefiting from the direct and indirect jobs created by the emerging LNG sector. Programs are designed with direction from First Nations communities and with collaboration from industry, as well as provincial government and federal government partners.
In 2015-16, B.C. invested $8.2 million in 23 different community-based training and employment projects – ranging from workplace literacy and essential skills, to environmental monitoring, driver training, information technology training and foundational trades for participants from 45 First Nations and the urban Aboriginal community in northern B.C.
Through this support, more than 1,200 Indigenous participants have received skills training during the past year. So far, 45% of those participants have found employment, a high success rate for employment training programs. British Columbia is investing an additional $11.8 million for 17 more new skills-training projects as well as 15 projects that have multi-year funding commitments. Through this investment, another 1,000 First Nations members will get the training they need.
A good example of the kind of success generated by Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund investments can be found in the small Doig River First Nations community in northeastern B.C. where 10 members recently completed a pipeline craftsmanship course in Fort St. John. Eight of those participants now are employed full-time on the Plateau natural gas pipeline.
Another program, Pathways to Success, which delivered workplace skills in the Terrace and Prince Rupert areas, has resulted in almost 200 Tsimshian members from six communities getting jobs. It has also generated more than $5.3 million in annual salaries. The average wage of the workers is $18.63 per hour.
Savings to governments through the Pathways program have been estimated at more than $900,000 for one year, through a reduction in benefits paid under Employment Insurance, Income Assistance and BC Employment Assistance.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“The vast majority of the programs that we have funded through the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund have been community-driven and delivered close to home in partnership with First Nations. Many have also included cultural elements that have enhanced participant satisfaction and interest. Most importantly, the training has been focused on positive job outcomes and employment. The results have been very good.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour –
“Aboriginal youth are the fastest-growing demographic in our province with half under the age of 25. Through B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, we continue to make progress towards our goal of ensuring Aboriginal people have the education, training and support they need to find their fit in our diverse, strong and growing economy.”
Audio of John Rustad, Minster of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation:
- Training programs funded by the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund align with B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and the target of adding 15,000 new Aboriginal workers to the provincial workforce by 2024.
- The Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund programs build transferable skills to support immediate employability by First Nations members.
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills
The BC Jobs Plan: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/
Leanne RitchieMinistry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation