Aboriginal Peoples in Canada are the youngest and fastest-growing population in Canada. This fact combined with the aging baby-boomer population and looming labour shortages, means that Aboriginal Peoples will have growing opportunities to build fulfilling careers. Despite this opportunity, the unemployment rate remains at 22.6% (Statistics Canada, 2011) for Aboriginal youth aged 20-24.
One of the largest barriers faced by Aboriginal youth entering the workforce is lack of work experience. Pabineau First Nation is taking a pro-active approach to career development for their Aboriginal youth. Over the past 5 years, the Student Summer Employment Program has placed youth in dozens of positions for the summer. These placements provide high school and university students with relevant experience that will help them make career decisions and open doors for the future.
Currently, 19 students are placed with 15 different local businesses in the following industries:
- Library Services
- Food Services
- Waste Management
- Media services
- Auto sales
- Government services
“While youth gain work experience,” said Felicia Grant, program administrator and past beneficiary, “successful work placements also build Pabineau’s relationship with the business community of Bathurst”. These improved business relationships open doors of opportunity for economic development in the region. This demonstrates that employment initiatives benefit both individuals and communities.
Programs like the Pabineau Student Summer Employment Program are instrumental in building the careers of Aboriginal youth by maximizing their participation in the current and future workforce.
For more information on Pabineau First Nation, visit: http://www.pabineaufirstnation.ca/.
Mike Hennessey, Aboriginal Labour Market Information Analyst, will be a monthly contributor to the JEDI blog. From Pabineau First Nation, Mike holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of New Brunswick and is currently finishing a Masters of Education at UNB. Mike is motivated to share relevant labour market information to help First Nations, industry, and government recognize the potential that lies in the Aboriginal workforce.