Models of Success – In Rural Locations – Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies: Career Centres and Taking the Information to the CommunityModels of Success – In Rural Locations – Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies: Career Centres and Taking the Information to the Community

Overview

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) is a First Nations post-secondary training institution that has been in operation for over 30 years. The Institute focuses on training that will directly lead to employment for its graduates. It is also closely linked with the past Aboriginal Human Resource Agreement Holders (AHRAHs). The Institute is student-focused and finds innovative ways to recruit, retain and support until graduation. One of these innovations is the Mobile Career Bus that visits First Nation communities. Students can get on the bus to find complete resource information about careers, including career assessment, and funding support for SIIT courses.

Who is Involved

SIIT has many programming partnerships with key stakeholders, from industry employers to various levels of government, including First Nation governments. SIIT has a joint training committee formed 11 years ago that indentures apprentices in the construction trades.

Almost all of the trades and industry programming is industry derived and sanctioned, such as the apprenticeship training from the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) and the 4th-class power engineering curriculum from the Saskatchewan Boiler Branch used in the Process Operation Technician (POT) program.

Also available are academic preparation and refresher courses, employability skills development, and safety training courses to meet specific needs and increase opportunities for employment.

Other partners include:

  • Apprenticeship Commission  - has resources to support apprenticeship training
  • Industry job coaches
  • Labour groups
  • Industry partners that work directly with the ASET/AHRDA holders

The Focus

Programming includes a wide range of programs, such as Adult Basic Education, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, Business Administration and Information Technology, Trades and Industrial, Online Learning and Professional Development

The classes are offered in local communities, and graduates have access to the Industrial Career Centres located in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, La Ronge, Yorkton, Meadow Lake and North Battleford.

In the trades area, SIIT focuses on work skills development, apprenticeship and industrial programs. Other construction-related courses include Carpentry Level 1 – apprenticeship program, Welding Applied Certificate, Heavy Equipment Operation, Process Operation Technician 1.

Why This Model Works

Often the training courses are offered near or within a First Nations community to provide students with easy access and opportunity to take the training.

SIIT works closely with industry leaders and governments to build relationships and understanding of the industry expectations and ways they can recruit a skilled First Nation workforce.

The model works because SIIT has industry leadership at the table. The Institute also encourages and works with employers to ensure that job suites hire job coaches. This approach works particularly well if the job coach is Aboriginal. Many job sites organize a buddy system where new employees work alongside a seasoned Aboriginal worker.

SIIT has staff working within the organization who have experience and understanding of the construction industry. Leadership from SIIT indicates that this is vital to its success and opportunities in creating successful training and employment in the construction industry. Roger Schindelka, Vice-President Employment Development and Career Services, SIIT, says that “Every AHRDA needs to have an individual working directly with them who understands the construction industry.”

Challenges to Work on

SIIT continues to work with employers and participants on racism issues. It continues to recruit motivated employers who understand the benefits of hiring an Aboriginal skilled worker. The work also continues in preparing the client group to be employment ready. Often this task includes day-to-day life and social skills. Some of the clients have never worked, so retention can be a challenge. Employers have to be encouraged to try again even if some workers do not work out the first time.

Trained and skilled workers who reside in remote or rural communities still have challenges in maintaining full-time employment unless they are prepared to travel to work sites.

SIIT also strongly recommends that ASET holders hire someone who understands and has experience in the construction industry. This factor is extremely important in supporting students and employers through to the employment stage.