VANCOUVER — This month the Industry Training Authority (ITA) celebrated the achievements of all Indigenous apprentices, partners, service providers and employees on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.
The training co-ordinator stated supporting the success of Indigenous people and communities in skilled trades careers is a key commitment of the ITA.
At the end of March, Indigenous people comprised eight per cent of apprentices registered with the ITA. Over the past decade, the number of Indigenous people participating in apprenticeship training has grown from just over 500 to more than 3,000.
“Indigenous cultural inclusion and reconciliation is a strategic priority both within ITA and in how it connects with its partners,” reads a press release.
ITA officials explained that a key to increasing opportunities for Indigenous people in trades careers has been the formalizing of partnerships with local and regional organizations. The ITA’s community-based training model (CBTM) helps bring programming into rural and remote regions of B.C. ITA officials say the model has helped develop greater local skills creation and employment opportunities, social and economic development, and a sustainable, regional work force.
“To be able to bring the technical trades training to communities across B.C., and for those communities to be able to provide the opportunity for their apprentices to cover the scope of trade and work experience in all levels of their apprenticeship, is truly remarkable,” said Michael Cameron, director of Indigenous initiatives at the ITA. “The collaborative effort of ITA with our partners demonstrates a true commitment to reconciliation and the innovation in removing barriers to Indigenous peoples’ success in trades training.”
According to ITA officials, for remote communities, a strong, highly-trained team of trades professionals creates self-sufficiency and a lasting legacy of infrastructure and knowledge.
They added trades training plays a big part in preparing community members for economic opportunities as well as providing in-community skilled individuals for projects on and off reserve. With CBTM, apprentices can develop practical, real-life work experience as well as earn workplace certifications.
Travelling to get training can be expensive and forces students to be away from family. The ITA stressed that for a fraction of the cost CBTM brings instructors into communities instead.
It is also supported by work or capital projects in the community or region, to aid in the individual’s apprenticeship pathway.
“I can sum up our relationship with the ITA this way: Ama Sqwetsp: A Good Journey — a good journey working together bringing community-based training to the community that will expand the horizons for today, and tomorrow’s generations,” said Catherine Pascal, manager of employment and training at the Tśzil Learning Centre for the Líl̓wat Nation.
To further the CBTM, since 2018, ITA has signed 12 Memoranda of Understandings with First Nations communities, Indigenous Skills and Employment Training agreement holders and a Hereditary Chieftain group with the goal of increasing trades sponsorship and apprenticeships within their regions.
ITA officials explained with these agreements, partners become the sponsors of apprentices working on local projects, ensuring employment for their local communities and creating an appropriate cultural approach to an apprenticeship pathway and experience.