The Alberta government will invest an addition $1.9 million over two years to fund a program that helps train Indigenous people and find them jobs in the construction industry.
In 2015, the government started a pilot project — the Aboriginal Training to Employment Program (ATEP) — aimed at helping around 600 aboriginal people train for jobs in construction.
The government committed $1 million over two years towards new construction training centres at NorQuest College in Edmonton and Bow Valley College in Calgary.
The project delivered career counselling and construction-related training for more than 300 students at each school.
As she announced the funding boost Tuesday, Labour Minister Christina Gray said the money is expected to help about 1,700 people.
“Indigenous people are hard-working, entrepreneurial and important contributors to Alberta’s economy,” Gray said in a media release. “As we work to make life better for everyday Albertans, this additional investment will improve access to training opportunities and help more Indigenous people find good jobs in a key industry.”
Benjamin McDougall, who has taken advantage of the Alberta Indigenous Construction Career Centres (AICCC), said the training helped him learn the skills he needed to enter the oil and gas industry.
“Through training in H2S Alive and other related courses, I have been able to pursue a career in areas I had not thought possible,” McDougall said.
“The opportunities that I have found with the skills learned at AICCC have helped me gain financial independence in a lasting and rewarding career.”
Both NorQuest and Bow Valley colleges said they were pleased to see the program continue.
“At NorQuest College, we believe strongly in the rights of all people to pursue meaningful and rewarding careers without barriers; careers that help individuals, families and society as a whole,” NorQuest College president and CEO Jodi Abbott said.
“Through the centre, we are building pathways connecting Indigenous workers to construction-related careers, strengthening families and communities and contributing to Alberta’s productivity and prosperity,” Bow Valley College president and CEO Laura Jo Gunter said.
The program offers resources such as career coaching, resume development, safety courses and job search supports.
ATEP is funded in partnership with NorQuest and Bow Valley colleges, the federal government and Indigenous communities.
With files from Slav Kornik, Global News.