Linkages Project


“Building Stronger Indigenous Labour Market Program and Service Links with Employers”

The Project is hosted by Indigenous Works and is funded by Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC).

Indigenous Works is addressing relationship building and responding to the growing need for stronger partnerships between Indigenous-owned enterprises and corporate Canada. This project is timely given calls by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Government of Canada to renew relationships and ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities for the betterment of Canadian society and our economy.

The Project will run until June 2019 and seeks to engage four industry sectors (Information Technology and Manufacturing in ON, Transportation and Warehousing in BC, Foodservices and Hospitality in AB, and Clean and Renewable Energy in SK), and will work towards:

  • improving employer awareness, access and use of federal, provincial and post-secondary education (PSE) labour market programs and services supporting Indigenous labour market development and participation;
  • increasing engagement and collaboration between employers in key demand sectors and federal, provincial and PSE Indigenous labour market programs and Indigenous service providers;
  • improving alignment/coordination and delivery of federal, provincial and PSE labour market programs and services to support labour market development; and
  • showcase and highlight best practices in Indigenous labour market training/skills development and support Indigenous recruitment/job placement through regional Workforce Connex events.

Each project is overseen by a steering committee that is representative of all of the stakeholders. The committee oversees and guides the project, and will be expected to meet electronically an average of once per month as well as potentially attend some focused events over the two-year period. Information gathered by each steering committee will be shared with the other committees.

The objective of this 24-month Indigenous Engagement Project (The Project) is to encourage coordination and alignment of Indigenous labour market services in the transportation and warehousing sector in BC, the foodservices and hospitality sector in Alberta, the information and technology and warehousing sector in Ontario and the green and renewable energy sector in Saskatchewan and ultimately Canadian wide.

The sector approach intends to support the mobilization of existing industry and partnership networks in advancing Indigenous job opportunities. This will be carried out by working towards increasing awareness, access and use of labour market development programs and services among an expanding network of employers, post-secondary institutions, industry associations, government departments, Indigenous employment agencies (ASETs), job-seekers/students and other key stakeholders to better support Indigenous recruitment, work experience and job placement.

The range of programs and services can be a challenge for Indigenous job seekers and sector employers to navigate and effectively use. The Project seeks to ensure that more employers, Indigenous job seekers and learners are aware of and can make use of labour market development programs and services to better support recruitment, work experience and job placement.

Currently the non-Indigenous business sector has a variety of reasons for engaging in business relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities:

  • a changing social, legal and political environment that increasingly recognizes Indigenous land title and rights;
  • the need for support from Indigenous communities to get regulatory approval from governments;
  • the valuable labour pool from Indigenous communities located near major resource projects;
  • an expectation from shareholders and the public that companies develop positive relationships with Indigenous communities; and
  • a genuine commitment to overcome the legacy of the past and to co-create a positive future.

The social and economic business case for Indigenous labour market development is clear. More than 1.4M Indigenous people live in Canada, accounting for 4.3% of the national population, yet they continue to be under represented in the labour market and in many segments of the training and PSE system. The Indigenous population is young and growing rapidly: 40% of Canada's Indigenous population is under 25 years of age. Two-thirds of Canada's Indigenous population (approximately 950,000) are of working age. From 2006 - 2011, Canada’s Indigenous population grew by 20% compared to 5.2% growth for the rest of Canada.

Indigenous Canadians offer a viable solution to some of Canada's persistent labour market pressures. The Centre for Studies on Living Standards has estimated that if Indigenous peoples were to achieve equity in terms of educational attainment and workforce participation with the rest of the country, Canada’s economy would generate an additional $400B in productivity and save $115B in government expenditures through to 2026.

The Government of Canada has made clear its commitment to the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Budget 2016 proposed new investments of $8.4B over five years to support a “Better Future for Indigenous peoples, including education, training and community infrastructure.”

The Speech from the Throne and the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have also reinforced the important link between national economic growth and prosperity and the fundamental relationship between Canada and Indigenous people based on rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

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