Workplace Essential Skills & Life-long Learning Program Opens Doors for Students

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On June 29th, students of the Indigenous Workplace Essential Skills & Life-long Learning Program celebrated the successful completion of their course.

The program, which lasted six months, was made possible through a collaboration between the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI), the Union of New Brunswick Indians Training Institute (UNBITI) and the Indigenous Women’s Association of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Territories.

Gail Paul, the executive director at the Indigenous Women’s Association of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Territories says that she thinks it’s important to support initiatives such as this because “the barriers Indigenous women face today are by far greater than we can imagine at times. We have surpassed our targeted client base which is evidence of the need for our employment and training services.”

She continues by saying her hopes are to “continue to take a collective approach to identify the priority needs of our client base and continue to experience the positive results in the education and employment needs of Indigenous women”.

By participating in the program, students gained various life-long skills and unique certifications. Donna Clarke, one of the instructors, says that these are a few of the highlights of the course:

  • Workplace Essential Skills (WES)
  • Financial Literacy
  • Basic Income Tax
  • Reiki/Mindfulness training
  • Active-listening skills
  • First-Aid training
  • WHIMIS & Food safety training
  • Nutrition courses
  • Hands on experiential learning (in both the classroom and through attending cultural events)
  • Gaining knowledge and insight about Indigenous culture and history

Not only did the students leave the program with this unique set of skills, they were also given the opportunity to complete on-the-job training. Students received work experience at various companies like Bird Construction, St. Mary’s Fisheries, the Oromocto Food Bank, and St. Mary’s Supermarket bakery.

Tink Paul – a graduate who is now pursuing entrepreneurship through the JEDI Incubator Program – says she “doesn’t think she would be as prepared for the Incubator course if she didn’t take the WES course first.”

She added, “my favourite part of the program was all of the certificates and building my portfolio. It’s great to have it in your hands; to show what you’ve accomplished. My resume looks amazing now.”

Andrew Paul, another graduate of the program, was offered a job with Bird Construction just moments before the graduation began. When asked what his favourite part of the program was, he responded, “everything – it was a great experience that helped me a lot.”

When asked if they would recommend the program to others, Tink said “I’ve actually been telling a lot of people about the program because of all of the certificates you gain.” Andrew agrees, by saying he definitely would as he is “very appreciative of everything it has done for him.”