All across Canada, but particularly on the prairies, builders complain about shortages of skilled trades people, but there’s a vast pool of unrealized potential among First Nations youth.
Native reserves have a booming young population, and chronically high rates of unemployment.
Governments and the private sector often turn to immigration to fill such needs, but the answer could be right in our own backyard.
Obsolete regulations are one of the roadblocks that prevent this from happening.
Provinces regulate the number of apprentices that can be hired based on the number of existing journeypersons who are ticketed to work in the various trades.
These ratios require many companies to lay off apprentices or to leave positions vacant in many cases, for reasons that don’t make much sense.
Most provinces are moving to ease these restrictions, and governments should focus on things like safety standards instead of regulating the rate of entry.
Education requirements are also a problem.
Most trades require a high school diploma which Aboriginal young people may not have for a number of reasons.
Governments should introduce skills-based examinations as an alternative.
Steps like these would ensure that aboriginal young people can be a key part of the solution to the skills shortage in Canada.
I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.
For more on Aboriginal policy, visit our website www.fcpp.org.