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HR Guide & Tool for Employers, Best Practices, and Youth Pilot Projects

It has become clear from a growing demand for a skilled workforce, that the electricity industry will need to develop new, sustainable recruitment strategies.

Canada’s Aboriginal (also called Indigenous) population presents an under-utilized source: growing nearly six times faster than the rest of Canada and often young, accessible, and ready to enter the workforce. In addition, many Aboriginal communities are located near electricity installations. Despite these advantages, various barriers prevent Aboriginal peoples from fully participating in the electricity workforce. To help alleviate these barriers, and to support relationship development between industry and Aboriginal communities, Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC, then the Electricity Sector Council) designed the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative.

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Aboriginal Participation Initiative Project Report Cover

Barriers to Participation

To establish a focused platform for a strategy, EHRC has distinguished five categories of important barriers to Aboriginal participation in the electricity sector.

10 Tips for a Successful Strategy

Strategic Assertions

The Initiative is based on four strategic assertions to ensure success:

Electrical Trades Orientation Program

The Electrical Trades Orientation Program was created to develop a program that would provide pre-trades orientation and upskilling to Aboriginal adults. EHRC and other stakeholders in the AWPI strategy developed and tested key elements for a transferable and scale-able initiative conducting a pilot program.  The 2011 pilot program provided pre-trades orientation to Aboriginal adults across  ca 15-week program from January to April, in Happy Valley – Goose Bay, NL. The program was initiated and co-sponsored by EHRC and the Labrador Aboriginal Training Partnership (LATP).

Overall, it appears that the participants were satisfied with the content and design of the program, and it achieved the anticipated outcome. All nine participants completed the originally planned 14 weeks of instruction and several also completed a week of ‘job shadowing.’ Of eight students who took for-credit courses, four achieved a credit in Workplace Communication and five achieved a credit in Workplace Skills. The learners were asked to complete brief questionnaires to provide their feedback on the program at five different points: the students indicated a high level of satisfaction with the program content and its delivery. The students felt they received enough information about each trade to make an informed decision regarding courses for the future. Most participants were able to make a clear choice to enter an electricity and renewables sector occupation (5 of the 9) or to pursue another career path. There were 1 or 2 who remained undecided at the end of the program. When asked directly about whether the program met their expectations, the students provided positive results.

Bright Futures Aboriginal Youth Camps

EHRC created the youth camp initiative to address one of the key barriers to increasing Aboriginal involvement in the electricity sector: limited educational background in the mathematics and science required for employment in the industry. The camps are oriented to pre-teen youth (approximate ages 10-13). Attendees build relevant interest, knowledge and confidence in advance of making educational and career choices.

The camp curriculum includes a mix of hands-on activities, facilitated discussions, Respect for Aboriginal cultures are embedded within the week’s activities such as: a local Elder participating in the opening and/or closing of the camp, with a prayer and/or a smudge ceremony (depending on the cultural traditions of a particular community). Modified Guiding Circles activities are also used as a method of exploring participant perspectives on careers, personal strengths, and learnings from the camp.

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