August 5, 2021 By P&PC Staff
The B.C. First Nations Forestry Council is receiving $959,000 in funding from the federal government to support a new skills development and job recruitment program.
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.
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 feature 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.
The tool aims to reduce educational costs such as travel and accommodations, and 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.
“The B.C. First Nations Forestry Workforce Strategy paves the way for achieving sustainable and meaningful career, employment and business outcomes for Indigenous peoples in the B.C. forest sector through collaborative partnerships between industry, educational institutes, and BC First Nations,” says Dr. Charlene Higgins, chief executive officer, BC First Nations Forestry Council.
“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.”
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 per cent 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.
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