There were a couple tears, some ‘congratulations’ and ‘thank yous’ and even cake at the Pathways to Success graduation ceremony in Prince Rupert last week.
Approximately 15 Aboriginal students, who signed up for the 12-week skills access and training program received various certifications ranging across categories such as construction, first aid, traffic control, dangerous goods transportation and fire safety at the Crest Hotel’s B.C. room last Thursday.
The students, who come from the Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams and Gitxaala Bands, wrapped up their program as the second Prince Rupert cohort, surrounded by the Pathways to Success sponsors, BG Canada, LNG Canada, Pacific Northwest LNG, the provincial government and program partners Cedar Education.
“It’s far more than a training program, it’s about getting people into jobs,” said BG Canada’s community relations manager Herb Pond.
“It addresses a bunch of skills that they’ll need to find jobs, but it also helps them find a job placement.”
Cedar Education’s northwest regional manager Tom Harwood and job placement specialist William Gye helped find jobs so far for eight participants and interviews for the remaining students in the Prince Rupert area. To date, 50 students have found employment through Pathways to Success – all of whom have been either out of the work force for a long period of time or under-employed.
“I think a lot of it was just learning how to be organized and showing up everyday and being committed – getting your work done, which they did,” said Lindsay Reeve, the English and Personal Development instructor in the program, operating out of the Coastal Training Centre.
“One of them was interested in environmental monitoring and she actually got a job in that [industry], so that was really great. I think a lot of them were not sure what they wanted, or they don’t know, so having people like [trades teacher] Steve [Welsh] or Tom to help them figure that out – the kinds of jobs that are there – I think is really helpful,” she said.
Pathways to Success, run by Brenda Leighton and organized by Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, just added a trades and industrial component after focusing more heavily on academia in years past.
Not only did the students gain skills needed to enter the workforce, but they also repaired their own self-confidence, a recurring theme in each of their year-end statements to the class and teachers.
“This group of students did lots of laughing. It was so good to hear laughing during math class,” said Leighton.
“I know how scary it is to go back to school when you’ve been out for awhile and maybe things haven’t been going so great … I want to thank you all for hanging in there and sticking it out and being courageous about that,” she told the graduating cohort.
Pathways to Success is one of several programs in Northwest B.C. designed to help Aboriginal residents become a part of the workforce.
The program’s goal is to add 15,000 such workers in the next 10 years.
It’s made possible through an initiative by the Aboriginal Skills Training and Development Program and B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, designed by Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad.