How training helps Indigenous youth have successful careers

Expert recommends 'cultural training not just for frontline staff but for management as well'

How training helps Indigenous youth have successful careers

Hundreds of thousands of Indigenous youth will enter Canada’s labour force within the next few years.

This influx will bring a lot of positives to employers, says Lynn White, CEO of Vancouver-based Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) in talking with Canadian HR Reporter.

“It's an advantage for an employer to hire Indigenous youth to work at their place because it's a different perspective that [they] come with. There's a lot to learn about Canada and our history, and giving an Indigenous person the opportunity to work in whatever organization [brings] an advantage to both the youth and to the employer.”

“In all of Canada, we're the fastest growing population, we have the most young people. And so there's a lot of opportunity there to train our young people up so that they can fill these positions,” says White.

More than 350,000 young Indigenous people will come of employment age before the year 2026, and they could boost the country’s economy by $27.7 billion per year if they are given the right employment supports, according to a 2020 report from the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and the Diversity Institute.

Tip for employers to hire and train Indigenous youth

Hiring and training Indigenous youth so they can be successful in the workplace can be a complex matter. 

For employers hoping to effectively do this, they must start by educating themselves, says White.

“For employers, what's important is for them to really educate themselves. Maybe have some cultural training not just for their frontline staff but for their management as well, because it has to weave throughout the whole organization.”

What normally happens is that employers just train the frontline people, and that training seems to be ineffective, she says.

Here’s how one company successfully reached out to Indigenous communities.

Meeting Indigenous youth ‘where they’re at’

In providing training for employment for Indigenous youth, ACCESS lets them decide which career they want to pursue, and they take that journey with them.

“We meet them where they're at and we see what they want to do, what their interests are. And then we help [them] take that journey, to make sure they get where they need to be,” says White.

“And we remove barriers along the way. We'll give a living allowance, we pay for their tuition, while they're going to school. We get them a bus pass, we incorporate [them into the culture] by them coming to us and working with our group.”

Recently, the federal government said it is investing over $5.4 million to support Indigenous economic development in Southern Ontario. The investment will improve skills development for youth and create more than 130 new jobs.

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