Funding targets unemployed older workers in Behchoko

Funding targets unemployed older workers in Behchoko
The annual Trails of our Ancestors canoe trip is one of several programs run by the Tlicho Government that will be looking to hire older workers who are currently unemployed.Photo: Tlicho government.

The governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories have teamed up to provide training for unemployed older workers in the Behchoko area to secure jobs.

Federal Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney was at Aurora College in Yellowknife last Thursday to make the announcement, promising over $285,000 in funding cost-shared by the territory and Canada to help older workers improve their skills and re-enter the workforce as part of the tourism industry.

The funding will go to skills upgrading, hands-on experience, safety training and certification with the expectation that graduates will get jobs as instructors or guides, employed by the Tlicho government.

“We’ll help 16 unemployed older workers develop the skills they need for jobs,” Kenney said. “This is a program that, in some places, folks who’ve been working in one job for most of their lives end up, for whatever reason…find themselves unemployed and just need to start a new career. This is just to support them in doing so.”

The 2014 federal budget proposes renewing the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW) for three years, representing a total investment of $75 million across the country.

To date, the initiative has helped more than 32,000 unemployed older workers across Canada, including 100 in the NWT. It targets adults normally between ages 55 and 64 in small, vulnerable communities of 250,000 or less that are experiencing high unemployment, significant downsizing or closures.

“Behchoko is considered an eligible community under the current TIOW program guidelines,” Jacqueline McKinnon, spokesperson for the NWT department of Education, Culture and Employment, told The Journal. “The approved proposal indicated that there would be positions available within the Tlicho Government as on the land instructors, trainers and supervisors that could build on the local tourism industry.”

Training already underway

The upgrading initiative, called the Wilderness Safety Training Program, is currently being offered by the Tlicho Government, looking to train people between the ages of 50 and 64 to become instructors in on-the-land programs.

The program will build on existing on-the-land skills by providing occupational health and safety training and outdoor safety certifications required to work as foremen, crew bosses, boatmen and activity supervisors in the Tlicho Imbe program, Trails of our Ancestors Canoe Trip and Puberty Camps.

That program will run from Feb. 24 to May 16.

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