VICTORIA – Aboriginal learners have new opportunities for skills training, thanks to the Aboriginal Training for Employment Program (ATEP).

This program is helping participants pursue further studies and employment opportunities as health-care assistants, chefs, construction workers, entrepreneurs, tourism operators and in many other occupations.

Aboriginal organizations, friendship centres and First Nations offer ATEP projects in urban and rural settings.

With a $4-million investment from the Province through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement, participants will receive in-class instruction in conjunction with hands-on learning in laboratories or workshops, and work or volunteer experience relevant to their training. In addition, job coaches are available to assist students in resume preparation, interview skills, job search strategies and career planning. All programs have Aboriginal cultural components.

Examples:

* The Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) in Vancouver is offering a boilermaker foundation program in partnership with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). The program was developed in response to an existing shortage of workers in this trade and expected demand for boilermakers resulting from the recent shipbuilding contract with Seaspan Marine Corporation that will bring over 4,000 jobs to the West Coast.
* The Native Friendship Centre in Prince George connects the Aboriginal labour force to employment opportunities in the sales and service industry through pre-employment training, job placements and support services.
* Learners in the Victoria Native Friendship Centre’s EAGLE program – exploring and acknowledging guidance and leadership though employment – receive life skills and industry specific training for job placement in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors.

Since launching in 2010, over 500 Aboriginal learners throughout the province have benefited from the program.

Contracts have been renewed with 11 Aboriginal organizations to deliver programs, and new programs will be announced based on a Request for Proposals that was posted on BC Bid seeking new service providers to bring training and employment opportunities to more Aboriginal individuals throughout the province.