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The Role of the Indigenous Employment Coordinator

The Role of the Indigenous Employment Coordinator
...there is a growing number of IBAs signed between industry and Aboriginal communities that include a clear target for a number of employment opportunities to be reserved for Aboriginal people. [1]

An Impacts and Benefits Agreement (IBA) is frequently a feature of effective consultation between a project proponent and an Indigenous community. As the majority of resource development projects are on the traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples, a key consideration for community leaders when negotiating an IBA is ensuring there are employment opportunities for community members.

A recommended feature, or best practice, is for the IBA to include provisions for an Indigenous Employment Coordinator (IEC). The IEC position could be funded by the developer or proponent, the Indigenous community, a government party or through a combination of the three. Ideally, the IEC should be an Indigenous person, but they do not necessarily have to be from the community involved in the IBA.

Having an Indigenous person as the IEC sends a really positive message to community members and prospective Indigenous employees that the proponent is committed to providing a culturally respectful and inclusive working environment. An Indigenous IEC would also act to reduce the culture shock some new-to-employment Indigenous workers may experience, especially if the project is remotely located in their community.

The Indigenous Employment Coordinator would work with the community/ies to develop and implement employment and retention strategies specifically targeted for Indigenous people in order to achieve the employment goals specified in the IBA.

An IEC’s mandate could include:

  • Ensure local communities are aware of the proponent’s Indigenous employment targets
  • Provide strategic advice to the proponent with regard to Indigenous recruitment, retention and advancement
  • Prepare an overall human resources strategy
  • Assess the job opportunities and required qualifications at all stages of the project
  • Develop training and apprenticeship programs that are relevant to the project
  • Assess the available Indigenous employees to determine their relevant skills
  • Assess existing barriers that prevent community members from participating in the project (education level, language, skills training, transportation, driver’s license, daycare etc)
  • Develop on- and off-site programs and initiatives to address the barriers
  • Work with the community/ies to recruit members for employment or upgrades, training, apprenticeship programs
  • Provide outreach support to the recruitment team with career fairs, connecting with schools, Friendship Centres, Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Service offices etc
  • Ensure that the existing, non-Indigenous workforce takes Indigenous awareness training
  • Prepare a comprehensive orientation program for Indigenous employees
  • Work with the Human Resources department to prepare a resolution process for Indigenous employees who experience racism on the worksite and ensure that the entire workforce is familiar with the resolution process and penalties
  • Ensure there is a policy that guarantees Indigenous employees with requisite skills and experience are considered for advancement and not held back in entry-level positions
  • Act as the “go-to” person for new Indigenous hires as they settle into their jobs
  • *Act as a retention advisor

Thanks to Eric Mohum, Catena Group Inc, for this suggested addition.

These are a few suggestions as to what the role of the IEC could include. It’s such an important position as the IEC has a great responsibility to meet the employment targets of his/her employer and to ensure that Indigenous people are trained, welcomed into an inclusive work environment and provided with every opportunity to succeed.

[1] Opportunities for Aboriginal Persons in the Workforce, Report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, May 2014

This article was originally posted on November 14, 2016.

Featured photo: Pixabay

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