In our work we receive a lot of questions about effective Aboriginal recruitment and retention strategies. A frequent recruitment predicament we hear about is “I want to hire Aboriginal workers but don’t know how to connect or where to go to advertise my job vacancies.” Bridging the gap between the company that is offering jobs and the Aboriginal individuals looking for employment is fundamental.
If your organization is non-Aboriginal and doesn’t have any Aboriginal employees you might not have the sort of relationship with the local Aboriginal community that is conducive to you sharing your job openings. If you are looking for tips on reaching out to an Aboriginal community, here's an article with some tips. In an urban setting, it is even more of a challenge because there may not be a core community to build a relationship with, nor a community centre in which to post job vacancies.
Going it alone to find Aboriginal workers can be hard sloughing so we recommend you work with an agency. There are a somewhat bewildering number of Aboriginal employment agencies and programs available to connect employers with job seekers but the sheer number is often cited by employers as more of a hindrance than a help. If you decide to go the route of working with an agency or employment organization, be sure to choose one that is known by and trusted by the community. It’s a bad idea to assume that all employment organizations are alike just as it’s a bad idea to assume all communities are alike.
One organization we recommend is the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS), established in 2010 by the Government of Canada. ASETS forms partnerships with Aboriginal organizations and has offices in every province and territory. And the good news is, the program has been extended:
“The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) has been extended to March 31, 2016. This is a 1-year extension of a very successful program that provides skills and job training, along with other employment supports, to Aboriginal Canadians in communities across the country. The Department is currently exploring options to renew and improve Aboriginal labour market programming post-2016. This 1-year extension of ASETS will ensure continuity of service for Aboriginal Canadians, while offering service providers continued support until new programming is announced.” 
“What are the advantages to partnering with ASETS agreement holders?
- ASETS agreement holders are experts providing employment counselling, identifying the skills of potential employees and determining training needs;
- Partnering with ASETS agreement holders provides employers with significant funding leveraging opportunities. ASETS agreement holders can contribute to the training and short-term employment of Aboriginal people, providing employers access to trained Aboriginal people for minimal investment;
- ASETS agreement holders can also ensure that this investment is sound. By providing clients with ongoing support and mentoring, concerns and challenges can be quickly addressed, contributing to increased retention rates;
- ASETS agreement holders are experts in finding and designing training strategies. They can assist employers in building training strategies that meet the specific needs of employers; and
- ASETS agreement holders are experts in working with Aboriginal employees and employers hiring Aboriginal people. They can assist you with any transition challenges or concerns you may have in a manner that is both sensitive and professional.” 
Other outreach targets for connecting with Aboriginal workers include high school and post-secondary institutions. But, in terms of attracting Aboriginal workers to your organization, you can’t beat the value of having an inclusive and welcoming worksite as a word of mouth recommendation is priceless.
 Employment and Social Development Canada website
Do you have experience working with ASETS you would like to share? Or tips on finding the right Aboriginal employment agency? Please share in the box below.
If Human Resources is your area of interest, you might enjoy this Aboriginal Education and Employment brochure from BC Hydro's awarding winning employment program.