By: The Working Forest Staff
NANAIMO, BC, CNW – The forestry industry is a significant economic development opportunity for Indigenous communities and is currently facing shortages of skilled workers in British Columbia. The lack of information resources and job recruitment tools represents a significant barrier to workforce development. That’s why the Government of Canada is providing $959,000 in funding to the B.C. First Nations Forestry Council to support an Indigenous Forestry Skills Development and Job Recruitment Program.
This funding will launch the Indigenous Forestry Virtual Platform for sharing information through online advisory services, training sessions, virtual job forums, and regional focus groups. The virtual platform will have recruitment and promotional tools to connect Indigenous participants and industry partners to current and future workforce opportunities. The platform will be critical for matching skilled workers with opportunities in British Columbia.
Connecting Indigenous students to forestry training that can be completed virtually within their community will help them be more successful as they will be surrounded by their community and familial support systems while they learn. The virtual platform and recruitment database will reduce educational costs such as travel and accommodations, and will support participants to secure jobs in the timber processing and value-added industries of the forestry sector.
This funding is expected to result in training for 500 Indigenous participants and to create at least 175 jobs by March 2023. Funding this project aligns with WD’s priority of supporting inclusive growth by enhancing inclusion of Indigenous peoples, women, and youth. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting capacity building in Indigenous communities to ensure the communities have the skills required to access future economic opportunities.
“The forestry sector is vital to Indigenous communities in British Columbia. That is why we are proud to support the Indigenous Forestry Virtual Platform by investing in a strong labour market in the West, helping to make training more accessible, and matching skilled workers to opportunities in B.C. Our government’s plan for a strong economic recovery puts emphasis on helping the forestry sector, the digital sector, and supporting Indigenous communities,” said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.
“The Indigenous Forestry Virtual Platform will allow the historic workforce who are aging out to be joined by young participants from local Indigenous communities. These new recruits can bring both innovation and Traditional Knowledge, and in a timely way integrate with the forest sectors’ continuous improvement towards greater forest sustainability, especially important during these times of climate crisis,” said Joyce Murray, Minister of Digital Government.
“Providing inclusive and accessible skills training and employment opportunities is crucial to ensuring that B.C.’s economic recovery works for everyone. This program offers an opportunity for underrepresented groups and Indigenous peoples to have access to good-paying jobs that will create positive outcomes for people and communities throughout the province,” said Ravi Kahlon, British Columbia’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation.
“The BC First Nations Forestry Workforce Strategy paves the way for achieving sustainable and meaningful career, employment, and business outcomes for Indigenous peoples in the BC forest sector through collaborative partnerships between industry, educational institutes, and BC First Nations. The Indigenous Virtual Forestry Platform will play a central role in connecting First Nations to forestry opportunities and supporting a forest sector with First Nations as Full Partners,” said Dr. Charlene Higgins, Chief Executive Officer, BC First Nations Forestry Council.
- Provincial labour market research forecasts that there will be at least 30,000 forestry job openings over the next decade.
- There are 5,315 Indigenous workers directly employed in the forest industry in B.C. making up about nine percent of the workforce, or one in 11 direct jobs. This level of employment is more than in any other resource sector in B.C.
- Indigenous communities own or control around 198,000 hectares of the 52 million hectares of timber-productive lands in B.C. Indigenous participation in the forest industry has tended to be concentrated in the silviculture, harvesting, and hauling areas, but Indigenous communities are working to secure jobs in mills and value-added industries for the long-term business management and forestry.
- Western Economic Diversification Canada
- BC First Nations Forestry Council
- The BC First Nations Forestry Workforce Strategy