Opinion

Partnership program ready to create more Aboriginal B.C. jobs

Our government is working diligently to ensure Aboriginal people can access the education and training they will need to take full advantage of job openings we expect in the years ahead.

Labour market forecasts estimate one million jobs will be available here by 2020 — and 43 per cent of them will require trades or technical training.

Just imagine the opportunities that will be available to Aboriginal people and other British Columbians: one million jobs, because the world believes in the relationships and the strong economy that we have built. That is why we’re aligning skills training and labour market programs so we can meet regional employment demands.  prime example is the oil and gas industry in the North.

We know there is significant untapped human resource potential in British Columbia’s Aboriginal communities. In fact, Aboriginal people represent our youngest and fastest-growing demographic and they are a key area of focus for our government.

Participation by Aboriginal people in the workforce is key to achieving the goals of the B.C. Jobs Plan. Ensuring there is access to post-secondary education and training when and where it is needed will improve lives and build stronger communities.

In 2010-11, more than 2,700 credentials were awarded to Aboriginal students, up from 2,100 in 2006-07. Our goal is to increase the number of credentials awarded to more than 4,600 by 2020.

The Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework was launched in June 2012, with the strong support of our Aboriginal partners, as well as public post-secondary institutions. It is a roadmap to help Aboriginal learners succeed.

Working with our Aboriginal and post-secondary partners, we have  implemented programs that include community-based training delivery. This puts work-related training and education programs right in Aboriginal communities. And we’re providing more financial support for student awards and scholarships to help Aboriginal learners reach their education and career goals.

In November 2012, we set up the $2-million Aboriginal Emergency Assistance Fund to reduce financial barriers to accessing and completing post-secondary education and training for Aboriginal learners.

Currently, we are working with our education partners in the K-12 system to improve Aboriginal students’ transition rates to post-secondary education. We hope by providing better information about labour market needs — and the training that is available — families will be able to make informed choices during the K-12 years that will support their transition to post-secondary education and the labour market.

Amrik Virk is B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education.

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