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Ready. Willing. Able.


February 2016




Whats Inside?
From the CEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Aboriginal People In The Trades Steve Triska, Red Seal Industrial Mechanic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Shipbuilding Workforce Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Success In The Workforce Laura MacFarlane, Red Seal Cook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Training-To-Employment Is Essential To Building Our Provincial Aboriginal Workforce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Future Directions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11


Ready. Willing. Able.

With a looming skills gap coupled with an aging Canadian labour market, First Nations people are becoming an increasingly key player in providing a solution to Canadas present and future workforce challenges.
In New Brunswick, the percentage of the Aboriginal population that is below 24 years old is 41.5%. The
non-Aboriginal population holds a much lower percentage with only 27.2%. These percentages mirror their
national counterparts making it obvious that First Nations peoples are emerging at an opportune moment
to boost not only their own economies, but the national economy as well. The importance to document
and analyze this emerging labour market is urgent and necessary.
Research by both industry and the federal government has called for increased engagement and development of the Aboriginal workforce. The Aboriginal Labour Market Information Project aims to develop the
statistical capacity of New Brunswicks First Nation communities to increase overall workforce participation
and analysis. A workforce inventory of these communities will help prepare Aboriginals to benefit from regional and national economic opportunities, rejuvenate the aging workforce, and create economic benefit
for all of Canada.
The inaugural Aboriginal Labour Market Intelligence Report: Ready. Willing. Able., gives a snapshot of the
Aboriginal workforce as it relates to the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Future publications
will focus on community skills capacity as a provincial skills inventory is developed.
JEDI would like to thank our partners in this initiative: the New Brunswick First Nations, Saint John River
Valley Tribal Council (SJRVTC), North Shore Micmac District Council (NSMDC), Mawiw Tribal Council, New
Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (NBAPC), Working Warriors (, and the
Department of Post Secondary Education, Training, and Labour (DPETL). Greater opportunities will be available to Aboriginals in the workforce through the collaboration of partnerships like these.
So, enjoy what follows in the Aboriginal Labour Market Intelligence Report: Ready. Willing. Able.
Lynn Poole-Hughes


An Emerging Workforce
A vibrant and growing economy that is creating jobs
is a top priority for the Government of New Brunswick.
A strong economy is vital to ensure New Brunswickers
can continue to enjoy a good quality of life and access
high quality public services.
If we want to foster a strong economy, we will need to
do more to grow the New Brunswick labour market.
For the first time in history, the number of people participating in the provincial labour market has started
to decline. As older New Brunswickers exit the labour
market there are not enough younger people joining.
This is putting increasing stress on the economy as
companies are less likely to invest in the province if
they cannot find workers.
The New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary
Education, Training and Labour estimates there will
be close to 120,000 new job openings across the
province over the next decade. Ensuring there are
enough workers for these jobs must be a key priority
for government, industry and community leaders in
the years ahead.
The Government of New Brunswick is embarking on
a new labour market development strategy that will
focus on encouraging higher labour market participation among the current adult population through targeted training solutions, fostering job opportunities
for younger New Brunswickers and attracting more
immigrants to the province.
The labour market development strategy is one part
of our broader economic plan that includes a more
focused approach to economic development, investments in strategic infrastructure and the development
of policies that foster a business environment that is
attractive to new entrepreneurship and investment.

This publication, Ready. Willing. Able., prepared by

the Joint Economic Development Initiative Inc. is a
timely and important assessment of the Aboriginal
workforce around the province. It is a helpful addition
to our understanding of the overall workforce across
the province.
The Aboriginal workforce is younger and growing
much faster than the non-Aboriginal workforce. The
Aboriginal population is achieving higher levels of
education and gaining specific skills training in fields
such as information and communications technologies (ICT), health care, business administration and
environmental science.
Understanding the profile of the Aboriginal labour
market will help First Nations communities, government and industry tailor education and training opportunities and better understand the important role
the Aboriginal workforce will play in helping to grow a
stronger provincial economy. The statistical profile of
an Aboriginal workforce, ever growing in their importance, is one step towards reaching the full economic
potential of our First Nations peoples and the nation
in which we live.
Through a spirit of collaboration, First Nations,
government, and industry can ensure Aboriginal
success in New Brunswicks future economy. When
we work together to lift individuals, Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal, into successful careers, the province
benefits as a whole.
David Campbell
Chief Economist
New Brunswick Jobs Board Secretariat


Aboriginal People in the Trades

Steven Triska, Red Seal Industrial Mechanic
When Steven Triska started studying
to be an Industrial Mechanic, he knew
it would take him four years to get his
Red Seal in the trade. But to Steven, it
was worth the commitment. Now he
has his Red Seal, has four years work
experience as an Industrial Mechanic,
and is making a good wage.

Classroom training lasts six to seven

weeks and then the rest of the block is
spent in on-the-job training. Because
Steven was an NB Power employee at
this time, he was paid while in class
and on-the-job.
Steven has been working for four years
on the turbines at the Mactaquac Dam.

I always wanted to work in a trade,

said Steven. You only take your trade
for four years and then you are at your
top pay rate immediately. I have seen
friends go to university and it can take
longer than four years to get good pay.

In general, an industrial mechanic

maintains, troubleshoots, overhauls
and repairs stationary industrial equipment. They interpret drawings, follow
layouts and assemble parts until they
are working perfectly.

Becoming an Industrial Mechanic

wasnt a straight route out of high
school for Steven. It wasnt until after
he spent some time in the Navy that he
reached out to the NB Power Liaison
Officer. The liaison was looking to hire
Aboriginal people and he was offered
a position immediately.

I like where I work, said Steven. Its

rewarding. When you get started on
a project, you see it on paper, you put
it all together and then everything is
running correctly. I also like the team
environment. You learn from each
other so it is good that way. The best
part of the job is job security and
knowing that you are essential to the

In order to start right away, Elsipogtog

Economic Development funded training for Steven to become a Linesman
with NB Power. However, after a year
of Linesman training, he took an aptitude test and moved to the Industrial
Mechanic trade where he was
indentured into the Apprenticeship
The training consisted of both classroom and on-the-job training. Each
block takes about one year and there
are four blocks to become certified.

Steven explained that isnt the case

for all Industrial Mechanics. If you get
on with a company, you maintain a
plant and work 40 hours/week. If you
work for the union, the work is as you
are needed. Its about a 50/50 split. Its
harder to get on with a company than
it is to get into the union but many
guys prefer the extra money you make
while working union jobs.

When asked about his plans for the

future, Steven replied, NB Power has a
lot of options. Baby boomers are leaving and being a supervisor or senior
tradesperson are options for younger
people now. Or I could also go into
public relations for First Nations in
an office environment. The career
counselors at NB Power help lay out
your options for you. Its nice to have
options. NB power is good for that.

Stevens advice for anyone starting

out in the trades is clear: its about
If you get a job offer and have to
move out of your community for four
years, make the commitment. Theres
work but you often have to move for
it. Commit for the duration of your
license, then you can move where you
want afterwards. I started the program
with a group who wouldnt move to
get their hours and now none of them
are working in the trade anymore. Its
only a four year period to get your
hours, just commit to it.

Major projects represent an incredible opportunity for

economic growth in Atlantic Canada in the coming
years. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC),
in the Major Projects Inventory 2015, identified 408
major investment projects totalling $129 billion worth
of investment in this region.
The construction of the combat vessel package by
Irving Shipbuilding Inc. (ISI) is a large piece of the major
project inventory over the next 20-30 years. Seeing the
opportunity for Aboriginal economic development,
the Joint Economic Development Initiative Inc. (JEDI)
worked with multiple partners in industry, government, First Nations, and trades unions to develop the
New Brunswick Aboriginal Shipbuilding Engagement
Strategy. Released in September 2014, this strategy
outlined four pillars of Aboriginal engagement in major
projects: relationships, communications, workforce
readiness and development, and business readiness
and development.

JEDI has collaborated with Aboriginal communities and organizations to take action in business
readiness programming and training for Aboriginal
people in mining, energy, trades, and information
A workforce readiness survey process was a part of the
development of the Shipbuilding Engagement Strategy.
Data collection took place from April 2014 - September
2015 and the results contributed to the development of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Shipbuilding
Engagement Strategy that is beginning to be implemented through funding provided by Indigenous and
Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). JEDI has collaborated
with Aboriginal communities and organizations to take
action in business readiness programming and training
for Aboriginal people in mining, energy, trades, and information technology. Labour market information (LMI)

has also become a priority to connect the emerging

Aboriginal workforce with career opportunities.

This strategy was developed to envision a way

of maximizing the industrial regional benefit of
the Shipbuilding project to First Nations in New
This strategy was developed to envision a way of
maximizing the industrial regional benefit of the
Shipbuilding project to First Nations in New Brunswick.
It can be viewed online at:

A picture of the Aboriginal workforce

Initial data collection took place in collaboration with
the Saint John River Valley Tribal Council (SJRVTC),
Mawiw Tribal Council, the North Shore Micmac District
Council (NSMDC), and the New Brunswick Aboriginal
Peoples Council (NBAPC). These organizations conducted research in their member communities resulting
in a database of 311 individuals. The final results indicate
an ambitious workforce motivated to participate in
the Shipbuilding project. However, capacity remains a
challenge as Aboriginal education and work experience
does not align with the career opportunities projected
to come available through Shipbuilding. These gaps
represent a training-to-employment opportunity for
industry, post-secondary institutions, government,
and Aboriginal Peoples to work towards full Aboriginal
participation in major projects in Atlantic Canada.

Things to remember
While this is a sample of the Aboriginal workforce in New
Brunswick, it is not meant to represent the province as
a whole. This survey was done directly in relation to the
Shipbuilding project, which may skew results towards
shipbuilding trades.
(continued on next page)


Shipbuilding Workforce Summary

























80% of our respondents, who identified

a career aspiration, aspired to careers
requiring more than high school.

The Shipbuilding labor force

survey reveals that the
Aboriginal workforce in NB is
ready and willing to engage
in careers in shipbuilding.




Another important result addresses career awareness.

A major portion of survey respondents (31%) either
reported no career interests or were too vague in their
responses to classify. This could be due to a lack of
awareness of career opportunities associated with
Shipbuilding in Atlantic Canada. Community information sessions that provide information regarding upcoming career opportunities with Shipbuilding could
counter this lack of awareness.

Training-to-employment programs
across the province will also
increase the ability of the workforce
to meet the requirements of the
industry, ensuring full Aboriginal
participation in Atlantic Canadian
shipbuilding opportunities.

The Shipbuilding labour force survey reveals a workforce that is ready and willing to engage in careers in
shipbuilding. Training-to-employment programs across
the province will also increase the ability of the workforce to meet the requirements of the industry, ensuring full Aboriginal participation in Atlantic Canadian
shipbuilding opportunities.


The results show an opportunity for training-to-employment

in connection with shipbuilding. Those who reported an
education level of high school completion or below (70%)
also expressed interest in accessing careers in shipbuilding.
Through GED and trades training-to-employment programs,
Aboriginals can become active participants in the shipyards
of Atlantic Canada.


Success in the Workforce

Laura MacFarlane, Red Seal Cook
Laura MacFarlane, from Metepenagiag, was married at 16, had six kids
and now, many years later, she is a
red seal cook at Nashwaak Villa and
owns her own business, the Mac
Shack food truck.
I got married when I was 16 and I
left high school, then I went back
and wrote my GED and I went on
to work hard and work honest,
said Laura. To be able to study
and really get some education
for myself made me proud. Its
wonderful to be a stay at home
mom and a housewife but to have
something on paper that you can
show others makes you feel good.
Laura loves to cook and she has
been working in the food industry
for most of her life. About six
years ago, she started working
at Nashwaak Villa in Stanley, NB.
Nashwaak Villa moved into a new
facility in 2013 and Laura has been
employed as a cook there ever
since the move.
About a year and a half ago I was
interested in going to challenge
my red seal to be a cook, said
Laura. I always wanted to get
my certification to ensure myself
a better chance at getting a job.
I knew that someone would be
retiring and in order to get that
job I thought I would give myself a
little boost by getting my red seal.

Being a red seal has not only

helped Laura get the job that she
wanted, it has also improved her
I was making good money doing
what I was doing before I became
a red seal, said Laura. This is the
best job that I have ever had but
once I became red seal certified
my salary literally almost doubled.
That makes you love your job even

Laura didnt just want her red seal

though, she also wanted to start
her own business.
Around the same time she started
the process to challenge her red
seal, she also bought a food truck.
We bought a food truck about a
year and a half ago and we call it
the Mac Shack since our last name
is MacFarlane, said Laura. We love
it. Its a 1980 curb master truck, it
was originally a food truck. Ive
seen it parked on the road for probably about five years and I finally
convinced my husband to buy
the darn thing. We bought it, we
gutted it, did it all up in deck steel
and brought it up to standards for
cooking in. My son painted it, all of
our family chipped in and helped
with this project and its been very
good for our whole family. We
travel around to some festivals


with it. We set up in the village

park here in our community, were
supported above and beyond
what we expected with our truck.
People seem to like us, they seem
to like our food.
As a business owner, Laura has to
think about costs, but that isnt
her sole focus. Her main strategy
for her food truck is to serve great
tasting food that keeps her customers coming back for more.
Laura is an inspiration to anyone
who wants to follow their dreams
and she has some great advice
about giving it that something
extra. If I can do it, anyone can
do it, said Laura. The opportunities are out there for anybody. Its
not easy and theyre not going to
give it to you, you have to work
really hard. You have to do that
little extra to be able to study and
think that you can do it and make
it happen. It is worthwhile for sure.
JEDI helped me to believe that I
could do this. This was going to be
my work, but with JEDIs help I was
able to succeed. Im very proud to
be red seal certified.

If I can do it, anyone can do it...

The opportunities are out there for

In October 2015, the workforce participation rate in New

Brunswick stood at 62.9%, compared with a national rate of
66% according to Statistics Canadas most recent data. That
means that over 37% of New Brunswick is not working or
actively seeking work. With an unemployment rate of 9%, over
35,000 New Brunswickers are currently unemployed, many of
which are beneficiaries of employment insurance (EI). Each case
of EI benefit is unique, and most people benefitting from these
programs genuinely need the support for a time of transition
(i.e. job search, relocation, family), however these were never
intended to be long-term benefits.
Aboriginal Peoples in NB are faced with even greater statistical challenges. The 2013 Profile of the New Brunswick Labour
Force puts the Aboriginal workforce participation rate at just
61.2%. The unemployment rate in the same report was 20.8%.
One of the most polarizing moves of the federal government in
the last few years was changes made to employment insurance
(EI). The reforms targeted repeat users, requiring EI recipients
to commute up to one hour and accept work that paid 70%
of their previous income. These changes were met with mixed
reviews. Some applauded the federal government for taking
action on a system that is perceived to be abused by repeat
users. Others slammed the government for hitting the middle
class where it hurts, in their wallet. So, is this approach ideal for
A recent article in The Economist summarized an analysis by the
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) that examined
over 200 recent labour market programs around the world.
These programs were intended to get people back to work,
and were divided into two streams: work first, and training-toemployment. The work first approach that mandates return
to work leads to immediate positive results, however those
benefits quickly fade. On the flip side, The Economist writes:
cuddlier programmes that offer training are disappointing in
the short-term, but blossom over time.

The research suggests that training-to-employment career development programs result in greater long-term employment
than other approaches. As money is invested into training,
workforce participation rates will increase over the long-term.
Training-to-employment programs are prevalent in building
Aboriginal workforce participation in New Brunswick. The Joint
Economic Development Initiative Inc. (JEDI) has partnered with
Aboriginal communities, tribal councils, and post-secondary institutions on training-to-employment programs in mining, energy, trades, and information technology sectors. These, along
with other programs, are invaluable in building Aboriginal
workforce capacity and employing Aboriginal people in NB.
The 2015 federal budget contains many areas of funding that
represent this long-term, positive approach. Nearly $300 million
were budgeted through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment
Training Strategy (ASETS) and the Skills and Partnership Fund
(SPF). The ASETS is a long-term approach projected to invest
close to $1 billion into training-to-employment in Aboriginal
communities across Canada from 2014-2018 according to
Employment & Skills Development Canada (ESDC).
On one hand, EI reform represents a work first approach to
employment in Aboriginal communities, while significant
investment in training-to-employment is also occurring. The
research is clear; training-to-employment is the best strategy moving forward to engage Aboriginal Peoples in the New
Brunswick workforce over the long term.
With an aging workforce resulting in growing labour shortages
and a young Aboriginal population, training-to-employment
programs will be a key driver for the future of New Brunswick.

Future Directions
Research is continuing across the province in collaboration between JEDI and community partners. Future research will
capture the skills capacity of individual First Nations with the intent of building a provincial skills inventory of the Aboriginal
workforce. This will be a valuable tool for Aboriginal governance, industry, non-profits, and post-secondary institutions to
use to advance Aboriginal participation in the labour force.
The next issue of the NB Aboriginal Labour Market Intelligence Report will be released in September 2016.


Training-to-Employment is Essential to
Building our Provincial Aboriginal Workforce

11-150 Cliffe Street

Fredericton, NB E3A 0A1