May 2021 – Technology Sector employment review for First Nations Communities

I’ve been involved with Labour Market Partnerships focussed on Regional Workforce Diversity for several years. My involvement and dialogue with Lower Vancouver Island First Nations communities has been rewarding and enlightening. Our collective goals have been to develop employment opportunities towards successful First Nations community engagement. The Industry stakeholders involved include Schneider Electric, Quester Tangent, Ralmax Group, Terra Remote, Epicure and Engaged HR, companies that are represented as members of the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology sectors. Our collective activity to date has been characterized by enormous learning, understanding and relationship development leading to successful First Nations community engagement and employment participation. This is encouraging news because statistics and research demonstrate that Indigenous peoples actually represent less than 1% of the entire BC Technology employment sector. As the youngest and fastest growing demographic in Canada, Indigenous peoples have a massive opportunity to assert themselves as a vital component to BC’s goal of becoming a world leader in the digital economy.

A high percentage of meaningful employment success comes from familiarization, knowledge and scope of personal networks and relationships. Our research indicates that the Construction, Tourism and Hospitality sectors currently meet that criteria for the Lower Vancouver Island First Nations employment councillors & facilitators. As a regional business community we must strive to include the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology sectors to this employment opportunity familiarization list.

How do we do this? We must continue to educate, build work based relationships, learn & develop cultural awareness and create community champions to help circulate successful employment related stories. On Thursday, April 22nd, John Juricic of Harbour Digital Media and Basil Onyia of Bambora online payment providers hosted a presentation titled “Review of the Lower Vancouver Island Technology Sector Workforce and Employment Environment” to approximately 15 participants of the Tsawout / Camosun College CELASET education program. Our goals included providing information to help open up technology sector job opportunities for the participants, to remove any confusion and/or intimidation about the sector and to help generate confidence for participants to succeed in the sector.

We emphasized that Technology based and focused jobs exist EVERYWHERE, i.e., within an industrial environment, administration, sales & marketing, communications, retail, tourism, real estate and construction based jobs and not just specific to Technology based jobs that will often include designer, application & software developer, coder and web developer. The scope of the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology sector in Lower Vancouver Island is substantial and we highlighted the size of this sector during our presentation (Advanced Manufacturing Sector – 120+ / Technology Sector – 1,000+). We also reviewed and discussed the core skill sets (hard & soft) required to succeed and compete for jobs in the sector. Appropriate soft skills, personal attributes and competencies are often more highly sought after by employees before the hard, certification based skills that can often be taught and trained for over a period of time.

The presentation was well received and valuable information was exchanged and delivered. Confidence and knowledge was generated. Several of the participants held career aspirations in health and early childhood education and we highlighted how both career paths were immersed in technology based applications including e-health and online learning. More of these online career/job type information fairs are being planned in the near future with the leaders representing Quester Tangent, Schneider Electric, Terra Remote and the Ralmax Group. The Lower Vancouver Island business community will continue to educate, build work based relationships, learn cultural norms and create community champions to ensure stronger First Nations employment participation within the Technology Sector.