Funding will help northern First Nations identify LNG opportunities

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A new partnership between the province of B.C. and the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA) will study labour market trends and needs – including future LNG opportunities – for 10 First Nations communities in the region.

The B.C. government is providing $320,022 to PGNAETA for the project, which will be completed in collaboration with the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, Lheidli T’enneh Band, McLeod Lake Band, Nadleh Whut’en Band, Nak’azdli Band, Saik’uz First Nation, Stellat’en First Nation, Takla Lake First Nation, Tl’azt’en Nation and Yekooche First Nation, as well as additional communities who choose to participate.

The project is employing a co-ordinator, a research assistant and field interviewers to gather information and develop a skills inventory, long-term approaches for aboriginal labour force development, and a human resources strategy to meet the anticipated labour demand for skilled workers in the participating First Nations communities. They will do so by conducting interviews with major employers, small businesses and up to 1,000 First Nations community members to determine areas of interest for future skills development.

“Increasing employment opportunities for aboriginal people is a key focus of our investment in employment and labour market programs for B.C. It is important our government enters into partnerships with communities to ensure more is being done to help their members find meaningful employment,” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.

The strategy will include current and projected labour market needs, information on the current composition of the aboriginal workforce, identification of training and education needs and strategies to meet labour market needs now and in the future. It will also create aboriginal human resource development programs within each community.

The report will be complete in October and shared with the participating communities.

“The strength of this program lies in working with the communities. By taking a community level approach, this program will help ensure First Nations and the Province are well-prepared to take advantage of future employment opportunities and a growing economy,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, MLA for Nechako Lakes.

Funding for the project is provided through the Labour Market Partnership stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships program.

Labour Market Partnerships help local employers, employee and employer associations, and communities develop ways to deal with worker shortages or changes in the job market so they can prepare for the future.

The Community and Employer Partnerships program is featured in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and provides the supports people need to gain a foothold in the job market. Projects build on strong partnerships between industry and labour to connect British Columbians with classroom and on-the-job training, while making it easier for employers to hire the skilled workers they need – when and where they need them.

To date, more than 1,000 job seekers benefited from work experience and over 200 projects have been funded throughout the province.

The blueprint was launched two years ago to help British Columbians get the skills they need to be first in line for the almost one million job openings that are projected by 2024 and to re-engineer our education programs towards a data-driven system focusing investments toward training for in-demand jobs.

“It is critical that we work in partnership with First Nations as we grow our economy. This study will give us the information we need to create a labour market strategy to ensure that First Nations are full participants in our economic growth both today and in the future,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, and MLA for Prince George-Valemount.

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