First Nations workforce gaps examined 

By Sandi Krasowski

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THUNDER BAY- Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS) is collecting information to help identify workforce gaps and needs, to better match North Superior First Nations people with the right training and jobs.

Sharon Ostberg, president of Anishinabek Employment and Training Services, says better data is needed to offset the concerning lack of workforce information.

“Gaps in Indigenous education and skills training presents both a labour and business problem, with negative impacts on Indigenous individuals, businesses and overall economic growth,” said Ostberg, in a news release to The Chronicle-Journal. “Understanding labour market information is essential to identifying industry skills gaps and developing solutions. This survey potentially holds the door open for new Indigenous employees and employers to realize their talent and potential.”

Their labour market survey is open to on- and off-reserve members of North Superior First Nations, which includes Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek, Lake Nipigon; Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Pic River; Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, Rocky Bay; Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, Sand Point; Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek, Gull Bay; Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg, Pic Mobert; Michipicoten First Nation, Pays Plat First Nation, and the Red Rock Indian Band.

Participants aged 15 years or older are eligible to partake in the survey and will be provided with a financial incentive for its completion. All nine participating First Nations have approved the survey that will collect data to reflect the community’s overall available workforce, knowledge, skills and abilities.

Melissa Scholz, the Anishinabek Employment and Training Services project co-ordinator, says the project will explore employment-related data from working-age Indigenous people.

The data from each community will be analyzed and used to improve education, training and employment-related programs and services that address labour market needs.

The survey will also provide details on effective labour strategies for Indigenous people. This is expected to equally benefit employers and industry groups working in the region.

“Indigenous unemployment rates continue to be higher than provincial averages, and speaks to the existence of barriers preventing the Indigenous labour force from accessing available job opportunities,” said Scholz.

John DeGiacomo, executive director of the Anishinabek Employment and Training Services, added, “This is an opportunity to help people thrive and succeed in a rapidly developing economy by helping citizens find meaningful, demand-driven employment, while investing in First Nations communities and youth.”

For more information on how to participate in the survey, go online at or call 807-346-0307 to complete the survey in person at either the Waverley Resource Library or the Brodie Resource Library. The closing date for the survey is March 31.

 Sandi Krasowski  is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.



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