OTTAWA, July 11, 2012 /CNW/ - Aboriginal workers can help address the
labour and skills shortages that many Canadian businesses face,
especially those located in the Northern regions where resource
development is creating a growing demand for workers. Yet low levels of
formal education and a lack of work experience hinder the success of
Aboriginal peoples in Canadian workplaces, according to a new
Conference Board of Canada report.
"Soon, Canada will not have enough workers with the right skills to meet
its labour needs. The Aboriginal population, including Inuit, Métis,
and First Nations, is the fastest-growing cohort in Canada, but it is
underrepresented in the labour force compared to the non-Aboriginal
population," said Alison Howard, Principal Research Associate at the
Conference Board, and co-author of Understanding the Value, Challenges, and Opportunities of Engaging
Métis, Inuit, and First Nations Workers.
Integrating more of the Aboriginal population into Canadian workforces
will require improving educational outcomes—especially high school
completion rates—and providing better opportunities to gain work
Between 2001 and 2026, more than 600,000 Aboriginal youth are expected
to enter the Canadian labour market. This Conference Board of Canada
report provides recommendations on the steps that employers, Aboriginal
organizations and businesses, as well as policy-makers, can take to
ensure that Aboriginal peoples both join the workforce in greater
numbers and succeed in the workplace.
"Rather than focusing on the challenges associated with employing
Aboriginal workers, businesses should tap into this underutilized
source of talent to fill skill gaps and address current and future
labour shortages," said Howard.
Businesses that successfully hire and retain Aboriginal workers benefit
in more ways than just finding qualified employees. Employing
Aboriginal workers helps organizations build stronger connections and
relationships within their local communities. Businesses become more
diverse and inclusive when they tap into the talents of Aboriginal
workers. And Aboriginal peoples who are successful in the workplace act
as role models for others in their communities.
While many Canadian businesses say it is important to bring Aboriginal
peoples into their workplaces, challenges remain. High school
completion rates are a key area requiring improvement, particularly in
Northern and remote communities.
According the 2006 Census, 34 per cent of the Aboriginal population aged
25 to 64 had not completed high school or obtained another diploma or
certificate, compared to 15 per cent of the non-Aboriginal population.
The 2006 Census also found that 44 per cent of Canada's Aboriginal
population had completed post-secondary studies, compared with 61 per
cent of the non-Aboriginal population.
"Increasing high school graduation rates and encouraging students to
take courses that are required for employment is an important step,"
said Anja Jeffrey, Director of the Conference Board's Centre for the North, which published a report on similar themes, Building Labour Force Capacity in Canada's North, in 2011. "It's also important that long-term partnerships between
communities, companies, and employment organizations are in place to
build a sustainable and productive Aboriginal workforce."
This new report outlines strategies that can help to bolster the
recruitment, hiring, and retention of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian
workplaces. These include:
Improve educational outcomes - Beyond high school, Aboriginal workers also need greater access to
educational programs that allow them to learn or upgrade basic skills.
Employers can offer mentoring, internships, and job-shadowing
Simplify points of contact between Aboriginal organizations and
employers - Better coordination among Aboriginal organizations to simplify points
of contact for employers would make it easier for them to find and
engage potential Aboriginal workers.
Raise awareness of Aboriginal cultures - Cultural awareness programs can help to overcome negative stereotypes,
racism and misunderstandings in the workplace.
Increase opportunities for the sharing of best practices among
Aboriginal employment organizations - Increased opportunities for Aboriginal Skills and Employment Strategy
(ASETS) Agreement Holders to share information and best practices among
themselves and with other organizations would strengthen their ability
to provide services to both workers and employers.
This report, which is publicly available at www.e-library.ca, is based on a survey of Canadian businesses about their engagement
with Aboriginal workers, and interviews with businesses, industry
associations, and Aboriginal employment organizations. It was prepared
with financial support from the Métis National Council (MNC) and Inuit
Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).
Link to publication: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/abstract.aspx?did=4886
SOURCE CONFERENCE BOARD OF CANADA
For further information:
Françoise Makanda, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 389