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News   December 2, 2019   by Allan Janssen

How indigenous youth could help solve the labour crisis

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) says indigenous youth are a largely untapped resource in overcoming the skilled labour shortage.

A new report – Promoting Careers in the Skilled Trades to Indigenous Youth in Canada – offers views on how to interest, engage, and train indigenous people in pursuing careers in skilled trades.

“Indigenous youth represent a growing part of the Canadian population and could form an important part of the future skills trades force if they receive adequate training and preparation through high school, apprenticeship and workplace training,” the report says.

Funded by Indigenous Services Canada, the work was conducted by Ph.D. researcher Emily Arrowsmith, who found that there are three main ways students obtain hands-on learning experiences: trades exploration, trades and technology courses, and Youth Apprenticeship Programs.

Successful examples of each are described in the report, and many school and community programs are examined. Interviews with high school teachers, school board officials and representatives from non-profit organizations, unions, industry associations and Indigenous education and training organizations, offer perspectives on what makes them effective.

Arrowsmith also identified barriers preventing Indigenous youth from participating in experiential learning opportunities at high school and transitioning to apprenticeships after high school.

They include:

  • lack of awareness about career awareness opportunities and apprenticeship
  • no shop classes or shops are in poor condition
  • limited public transportation
  • lack of essential and employability skills
  • lack of personal supports
  • limited connections with employers
  • not enough Indigenous journeypersons to mentor youth
  • financial barriers
  • unwelcoming institutions and workplaces
  • administrative barriers.

A copy of the report is available at the CAF website.

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