We are committed to an inclusive approach to skills development, with an emphasis on supporting groups underserved in the labour market. On the occasion of Indigenous History Month, we take a closer look at the ongoing innovation projects and research developed with our partners to better inform and support skills training and economic recovery in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada.
Indigenous communities and businesses play an important role in generating wealth and jobs for local communities, and levels of self-employment and entrepreneurship are increasing. A total of 350,000 Indigenous youths will come of age by 2026 (Source: Public Policy Forum), and now is the time to address youth underemployment and the lack of essential skills among Indigenous youth and adults.
Indigenous workers have found themselves in a more vulnerable position economically due to the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, between February and May 2020, Indigenous workers lost 51,000 jobs, a national loss rate of 14 per cent. While Indigenous men and women were hit equally hard by the initial labour market impact of the pandemic, the employment rate for Indigenous men rebounded strongly through the summer of 2020 and again from March to May 2021. By May, it had changed little compared with February 2020 at 58.4% (Source: Statistics Canada). Despite this recovery, the employment rate for Indigenous men remains lower than that of non-Indigenous men.
Skills training and post-secondary education are two essential pillars needed to support sustainable Indigenous economic development and to help build self-sufficient First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. In collaboration with Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities across Canada, the Future Skills Centre has been advancing research and innovation projects to identify the skills most needed by Indigenous workers today and tomorrow.