$10M for job skills training
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.