The provincial government and BC First Nations Forestry Council (BCFNFC) have entered into a new labour market partnership to bring aboriginal communities together with forestry employers.
The B.C. government has provided more than $80,000 through the Sector Labour Market Partnership Program, to the BCFNFC to lead the First Nations Regional Forestry Opportunity Studies Engagement project.
The goal of the project is to bring together Aboriginal communities, forestry sector employers and other partners, including the Aboriginal Skills Employment Training Strategy, to identify the forestry labour demands and opportunities in various B.C. regions.
The project is expected to finish in January 2017.
It is the first phase of a broader initiative to help ensure First Nations peoples in B.C. have the training and support needed for forestry sector jobs.
“We want aboriginal peoples in B.C. to have the information and support they need to take advantage of the various forestry sector related opportunities in their communities,” said Shirley Bond, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training in a press release issues Sept.9.
“This sector labour market partnership project with the BC First Nations Forestry Council will help us achieve this goal, and will continue to help more aboriginal peoples participate in our diverse, strong and growing economy.”
Upper Nicola Band Chief Harvey McLeod said his band has engaged in employment and training programs before, but his community still don’t have enough professional workers.
“We’ve done a lot of work in encouraging our community members to acquire skills that will lead to careers – not jobs – but careers,” McLeod said.
“It makes me confident that we are being heard, and giving us an opportunity to make some small changes, especially in the forestry sector, because the Nicola Valley relies on the forestry sector,” McLeod said.
This project supports the work that BCFNFC has been doing to help several First Nations identify their unique role in the forestry workforce in their communities.
The First Nations Forestry Council is focused on a workforce initiative supporting increased First Nations participation in the forest sector, Chief Bill Williams, president of the BC First Nations Forestry Council, said in the press release.
He said the current turnover in the workforce is a great opportunity for achieving that goal.
“Building skills is a requirement that needs particular attention and support if we wish to maintain a productive and safe workforce,” he said in the release.