$10M for job skills train­ing

StarMetro Vancouver - - NEWS | VANCOUVER - David P. Ball

Bri­tish Columbia is hop­ing to curb stag­ger­ingly high indige­nous un­em­ploy­ment by in­vest­ing nearly $10 mil­lion in job skills train­ing for 799 indige­nous stu­dents in ev­ery re­gion of the prov­ince, its higher ed­u­ca­tion min­istry an­nounced Thurs­day.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s pre-elec­tion an­nounce­ment of 28 “com­mu­nity-based part­ner­ships (to) link Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dents to jobs” be­tween First Na­tions and a num­ber of uni­ver­si­ties was wel­comed with sup­port­ive Twit­ter posts by many of the schools par­tic­i­pat­ing.

How­ever, it is un­clear how much of a dent the in­vest­ment will make in high un­em­ploy­ment lev­els on the prov­ince’s re­serves. The B.C. fund­ing works out to an av­er­age of $12,000 per stu­dent, and in the Thompson-Okana­gan re­gion — which hosts sev­eral large First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties — the av­er­age was just $7,500 for each stu­dent.

Mean­while, un­em­ploy­ment rates in First Na­tions in B.C. are nearly four times worse than for the prov­ince’s non-indige­nous res­i­dents, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent Abo­rig­i­nal Eco­nomic Progress Re­port re­leased in 2015. On-re­serve un­em­ploy­ment stood at 27 per cent in B.C., ac­cord­ing to the study, com­pared with just seven per cent for non-indige­nous Bri­tish Columbians.

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