Saskatchewan's First Nations and Métis youth: Untapped potential for province
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SOURCE Conference Board of Canada
Focus on high school graduation and transition to work critical
OTTAWA, Sept. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Increasing the rate of high school graduation among Saskatchewan's First
Nations and Métis populations and helping them transition to work will
be a key determinant of the future success of the province, according
to a new Conference Board of Canadareport for the Saskatchewan Institute. Achieving this reality will take a collective effort by business,
government, educators, and community leaders and would produce
significant benefits to that province's economy and society.
Saskatchewan's annual real gross domestic product would be $1.8 billion
larger by 2035 if the province's Aboriginal people were engaged in the
workforce at the same rate as the non-Aboriginal population. Such an
achievement would do more than grow the economy, create 15,000 new
jobs, and help avert a looming labour shortage; equally important, it
would vastly improve the social fabric of the province's First Nations
and Métis populations, helping them to awaken their own entrepreneurial
and community spirit.
By 2030, it is estimated one in every four new people entering
Saskatchewan's labour force will have an Aboriginal identity.
In 2011, 33 per cent of Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan, between the
ages of 25-64, had not completed high school.
Stakeholders need to focus on two key priorities: improving secondary
school completion and school-to-work transitions.
"Everyone stands to benefit from the successful education of First
Nations and Métis people and their greater participation in the labour
market, especially these individuals themselves," said Diana Mackay, Director, Saskatchewan Institute. "Saskatchewan's recent economic boom
has created an opportunity for government, business, and community
leaders to address the challenges associated with engaging First
Nations and Métis populations more fully in society."
Over the next decade, Saskatchewan will require thousands more skilled
workers. At the same time, Saskatchewan has a young and growing
Aboriginal population that could help meet provincial labour shortages.
Yet, as a whole, Aboriginal people have lower levels of formal
education and are underrepresented in the labour force. In 2011, 33 per
cent of Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan between the ages of 25 and 64
had not completed high school. The high school dropout rate for
Aboriginal youth is approximately two or three times higher than the
Canadian average. However, on average, Aboriginal people who obtain a
post-secondary education earn incomes virtually on par - or in the case
of Métis people, at an even higher level - than non-Aboriginal people.
Another major challenge is the transition of graduates from school to
work. Saskatchewan's businesses and other stakeholders need to be
actively involved in helping Aboriginal people move seamlessly from
school-to-work, including by providing additional training where needed
or by making accommodations that will attract First Nations and Métis
youth to the workplace.
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