The Tribal Chiefs Employment and Training Services Association (2014)

2014 Aboriginal Rewarding Partnerships Award

The Tribal Chiefs Employment and Training Services Association

Northeast Alberta Apprenticeship Initiative

The mandate of the Tribal Chiefs Employment and Training Services Association (TCETSA) is to help improve employment opportunities for First Nations people and enable them to fully participate in the Canadian economy. A variety of innovative vehicles have been established to accomplish these objectives, the Northeast Alberta Apprenticeship Initiative (NEAAI) key among them.

Conceived in 2012 as an extension of an existing workforce development project, known as the TREATY Model, the NEAAI was launched in 2013 to support job training and placement in the trades. Like all of TCETSA’s projects and programs, the NEAAI draws heavily on partnerships – with industry, businesses, towns and other communities, and the provincial and federal governments – to better understand and overcome employment barriers, and to enlarge collective, long-term success. The initiative’s main goal is to support the workforce needs of oil and gas development in northeast Alberta and the business that rely on tradespeople. The purpose is to increase the number of skilled tradespeople in the northeast region of Alberta.

The TREATY Model was credited with having reduced social assistance rates from 78 per cent to 24 per cent, 2009 – 2012, in one of the participating communities. Building on that success, a logical next step was a closing of the demand-supply gap for skilled workers, particularly in the oil and gas industry. In its most recent fiscal year, NEAAI had 85 clients – indentured, in training, or employed – 55 of whom were active (there were 16 non-aboriginal participants in the program). They were engaged in a variety of trades including welding and pipefitting. Twelve employers were hiring and training aboriginal people for employment opportunities in places like Bonnyville, Elk Point, and LacLa Biche. A large steering committee comprised of members from industry, government, education, and First Nations has been formed to provide input, guidance, and recommendations relating to apprenticeship, training and employment issues.

Conceived not as a quick fix, but as a mechanism of long-term, sustained change, the NEAAI continually seeks increased industry support and participation and project improvement through, for example, the creation of a distance learning and support system with the participation of key post-secondary training providers.

Pictured: Hon. David Dorward, Associate Minister of Aboriginal Relations (left) and Greg Desjarlais, Co-chair of the TCETSA (right)

The TCETSA is the voice for workforce development in the six Alberta First Nations in the Tribal chief’s Ventures tribal council: Beaver Lake First Nation, Cold Lake First Nations, Frog Lake First Nation, Heart Lake First Nation, Kehewin Cree Nation and Whitefish Lake First Nation (Goodfish Lake).