First Nations training needs a big change

With so called megaprojects slated for the northwest, First Nations people should be positioning themselves for the jobs that should result

Dear Sir:

With all these so called megaprojects slated for the northwest, First Nations people should be positioning themselves for the thousands of jobs that should result.

It seems to me that getting First Nations people into the workforce here in the northwest does not seem to be first on the government’s priority list, but spending millions of dollars on training them with little to show doesn’t seem to bother them either.

There are numerous funding agencies and training facilities that are vying for educational funding here in the northwest with a particular emphasis on First Nations. Their poor records speak for themselves – how many First Nations people have successfully completed programs that are actually employed in the area due to this training and, in addition, making enough to support their families.

Let our community college (which caters to First Nations enrolments) and other training providers show you their success rates (students completing the programs or else getting employment after their training). The low numbers (if they would provide them) would surprise you.

As a past instructor in the trades, I came to realize that many complex issues are involved and may need to be overcome in the success of a First Nations person. Understanding these complexities needs to be addressed and understood by government, funding agencies, training providers and the prospective bands that may sponsor the student.

Whining to the government for more handouts to the tune of millions of dollars will not solve the problem, but better management and accountability might help a little.

My experience has been that these various players for millions of dollars a year from government educational programs are all somewhat disconnected from one another and fail miserably in communicating and helping in the students’ success.

The “same old same old” methods have become a ongoing cash cow for all concerned and only benefits them by keeping them employed and padding their wallets without really helping the First Nations person at all.

I recently spent several months talking to various First Nations people as well as the funding agencies, training providers, past instructors, and band leaders before  coming to this conclusion.

There has got to be some accountability for the dollars spent on First Nations education with some feedback mechanism to assure that there are bona fide positive results.

The positive results would come in the form of getting First Nations people employed in the various areas that they are trained in within the northwest. This would probably require a person that has some autonomous authority to act as a liaison between government, the funding agencies, the training providers, the different bands, the prospective student and potential employers in the area.

The person would work with all concerned parties  but this person’s sole interest would be for the success of the student.

It would require following the process from the  desire to be trained to actually finding a job with a  potential employer in the area.

David Bowen

Terrace, BC

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