By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY — Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS) is conducting a Labor Market Information (LMI) survey to identify labor market gaps and needs and to better match area citizens North Superior with the right training and the right jobs.
“AETS is using this LMI survey to get better demographics of citizens looking for work so that we can match this information and put in place training programs that would alleviate labor shortages,” said John DeGiacomo, Executive Director of AETS. “For example, we have just completed a few health training programs, one in PSW (personal support staff) and the other in pre-health. Confederation College delivers the training and we have over a dozen students graduating at the end of March 2022, so they will be available to transition into the working world.
DeGiacomo says some of the graduating students may also continue their studies in programs such as nursing. Information about the survey is published online.
“So in that way, it again helps alleviate some of the demands that are out there right now,” DeGiacomo says.
DeGiacomo says the survey is open to citizens 15 and older from the nine First Nations served by AETS, including Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, Michipicoten, Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg, Pays Plat and Red Rock Indian Band.
“We want all citizens to fill out the survey whether they are working or not, because if they are working, they may be underemployed and want to advance in another career,” DeGiacomo said. “In any case, we want customers to investigate, but we also understand that’s half the circumstances – we also have to consider the circumstances of employers.”
Sharon Ostberg, President of AETS, says gaps in Indigenous education and training present both a labor and business problem, with negative impacts on individuals, businesses and overall Aboriginal economic growth.
“The lack of information is very concerning and better data is needed to solve the problem,” says Ostberg. “Understanding labor market information is key to identifying skills gaps in the industry and developing solutions. This LMI survey potentially opens the door for new Indigenous employees and employers to realize their talent and potential.
AETS has received approval from each of the nine First Nations to collect data that reflects a community’s entire available workforce, including knowledge, skills and abilities.
“Indigenous unemployment rates continue to be higher than provincial averages and reflect the existence of barriers preventing the Indigenous workforce from accessing available job opportunities,” said Melissa Scholz, coordinator of the human resources project for the IMT and skills inventory project at AETS. .
“The LMI project explores data related to the employment of working-age Aboriginal citizens. Once collected, AETS will be able to analyze the data with each community and use it to improve education, training, employment-related programs and services that meet labor market needs.
DeGiacomo says AETS will also be hosting a free virtual improv comedy event on Indigenous workplace inclusion featuring Indigenous sketch troupe Tonto’s Nephews on March 24.
“So we’re helping job-seeking clients, but we’re also helping employers understand what they need to do to be more inclusive in their practices,” DeGiacomo says.
DeGiacomo says the deadline to complete the survey is March 31, noting that survey participants will receive a $10 gift certificate.
“We can do the survey over the phone, we can do it online, we can send someone a link so they can do it at home,” DeGiacomo says. “Or we can mail them a copy and they can make a hard [copy] version.”