FORT ST JOHN, B.C. — Earlier today, the B.C. government formally announced the commencement of four programs aimed to help train First Nations members with the skills they need for careers in the LNG and natural resources sectors in northern and northeastern B.C.
The B.C. Government announced a $30-million training fund announced last spring, to carry on for three years.
These programs will be funded by the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund, and the total investment announced today was $1.1 million.
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In Fort Nelson, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology will be providing a ‘Powering Up for Opportunities’ program, to assist 40 participants from the Fort Nelson and Prophet River First Nations — with job/college readiness training. The investment into this program is $314,000.
The trades readiness component combines general college readiness courses with introductions to skilled trades including: welding, millwright, electrical and piping.
When asked about the training being obtained through NVIT — and if a chance for a partnership with local Northern Lights College could happen — Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, John Rustad, explained that the training models were developed by each nation.
“The First Nations themselves have come up with the types of programs, the types of things that will work, for their Nation, and they have gone and sought partners in terms of how the training can be done,” he told Energetic City in an interview.
“So, in some areas of the province, we have the local educational facility providing it. And in some areas, there are other facilities, such as NVIT, or others who are providing the training.”
He continued to say that this approach yields results, as each nation has their needs catered to when they set up their own parameters.
Chief Liz Logan of the Fort Nelson First Nation says, “our people are an untapped resource.”
“Through this project, we will grow the potential of our students so they will be able to begin to realize their own potential,” she continued.
Chief Lynette Tsakoza agreed, sayins it’s always good for young people to have access to education that broadens their horizons.
“This program will provide skills and training in a variety of trades and encourage our band members to explore potential employment opportunities and achieve job success.”
For members of the Blueberry River First Nation, NVIT will also deliver a program called ‘Pathways to Success,’ through a $324,000 investment from the B.C. government. Pathways to Success will provide 30 participants with the skills training to gain employment in the service and industry sectors. Along with essential skills upgrades in reading, math, and computer science, the B.C. government says the program will offer credentials in occupational first aid, food satey, and hazardous materials safety. This program will be taken in Buick Creek, north of Fort St. John.
Chief Marvin Yahey of the Blueberry River First Nation said programs like these will ensure their people have the skills and education they need to be successful in the careers they choose.
Chief Darlene Hunter of the Halfway River First Nation said skills training is a vital part of the future and will help to make the community stronger. The Halfway River First Nation will receive a modified version of this program, at a $97,000 investment. This version is six-months long, and has a strong focus on health and wellness.
The Tsay Keh Dene Nation will receive a $323,000 into their Workforce Development Initiative, to provide 90 people from Tsay Keh Dene First Nation with academic upgrading, literacy skills, driver training, career exploration and industry-related certifications. The Tsay Keh Dene Nation’s chief, Denis Izony, said “This funding will definitely compliment what we have planned in our Workforce Development Strategy in recent years. With this additional funding, we can enhance the delivery of our education and training programs which has been aimed toward increasing their overall employability of our community members moving forward.”
For members of the Doig River First Nation to obtain Class 1 Driver licence training — which allow holders to drive semi-trailer trucks — an additional $52,000 in government funding will be provided. This funding will also allow members to receive Class 4 driver training — which allows them to drive buses with a maximum capacity of 25 persons.
“We are pleased to provide these opportunities for our band members,” said Chief Trevor Makadahay. “This training is just one part of our ongoing skills improvement initiative that will allow our members to be competitive in the workforce.”
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint has a goal of increasing the number of Aboriginal people in the provincial workforce by 15,000 over the next 10 years.