Delivered on March 9, 2017
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and its partners across government, in industry, and education are all working together to ensure that NWT residents have the information they need to be well positioned to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Our government made a commitment in its mandate to take steps to close the skills gap using the Skills 4 Success Strategic Framework. This framework focuses on ensuring Northwest Territories residents have the skills, knowledge and attitudes for employment success. This strategy is part of the continuum of strategies at the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.
Working with industry, business, chambers of commerce, municipalities, Aboriginal governments and interest groups, Skills 4 Success has been designed to respond to the needs of students, workers, employers and the labour market.
In April 2016, working with The Conference Board of Canada, we released the Northwest Territories Labour Market Forecast and Needs Assessment and companion documents, the Labour Market Information Resource and the NWT Jobs in Demand: 15-Year Forecast. This information paints the picture of labour market needs in the NWT; the current status, and the projection. This is the first time we have had this information, and it will help us focus our efforts in education, training and employment opportunities over the next several years.
Strengthening the apprenticeship program is another part of our mandate commitment to close the skills gap. We have drafted an Apprenticeship Strategy focused on improvements to the Apprenticeship, Trades and Occupational Certification program in support of this. The strategy complements and supports those of Skills 4 Success.
We have extensively engaged through one-on-one interviews and surveys with certified journeypersons working in trades, current apprentices, employers, business and industry. We look forward to engaging with the Standing Committee on Social Development in the coming weeks to share our work on the Apprenticeship Strategy.
The government has also made a commitment in its mandate to develop and implement a strategy to increase employment in small communities. Education, Culture and Employment’s Small Community Employment Support Program funds projects in small communities for the development of workplace essential skills. Residents can participate through the Training-on-the-Job, or the Community Initiatives programs. In 2016-2017, 269 individuals from all regions received support and training. In the next fiscal year, we will invest an additional $3 million dollars to develop a Small Community Employment Strategy and expand the existing program, to better support small community employment and development of transferable skills across the NWT. In doing so, we will work with our colleagues in other departments to ensure that infrastructure and economic development projects create new opportunities for small community residents.
In partnership with ITI, ECE administers the GNWT’s immigration programs, including the Employer Driven Program under the Nominee Program, part of our mandate commitment to increase the number of immigrants working in the NWT. The program is comprised of three streams: Critical Impact Workers, Skilled Workers and NWT Express Entry. With extensive program improvements in 2014, there have been 340 nominees and dependents welcomed into the Northwest Territories over the past three years, and 128 in 2016 alone. It is through these streams that we are able to attract people with critical skills to the NWT.
ECE is also working with ITI to develop a GNWT Immigration Strategy aligned with both the Nominee Program and the Skills 4 Success strategy. Work on this strategy will include engagement with business, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Immigrant Service Providers and cultural groups. This new strategy will help the GNWT respond to labour market needs in a way that can be sustained through fluctuating economies while ensuring that job opportunities are safeguarded for Northerners and Canadians.
In the next few months, we will be engaging with the Standing Committee on Social Development to review the Immigration Strategy.
Mr. Speaker, across the territory, we all understand the importance of collaboration and working towards a common goal. Recognizing the unique characteristics and cultural mosaic of our region, coupled with the understanding that Northerners want to see vibrant communities and a productive economy tells us that our shared approach has us on the right path.
Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.