Skills program to help Bifrost aboriginals bridge to workforce

Province of Manitoba

PEGUIS FIRST NATION — A new Employment Readiness Program is helping meet the manufacturing industry’s need for a trained, reliable local supply of labour by training up to 16 aboriginal participants for job opportunities in the manufacturing sector, Premier Greg Selinger announced here Monday.

“We’re working together with industry, training and educational institutions, the aboriginal community and the Arborg Bifrost Community Development Corporation to provide essential job training for the aboriginal community,” said Premier Selinger.  “It’s helping aboriginal participants develop the core skills they need for well-paying jobs and careers in the manufacturing sector.”

Graduates of the program will be prepared for entry-level employment with wages up to $17 per hour to start and up to $22 per hour after two years of employment. Positions may include welding, plasma cutting, product painters, product powder coating, parts movers and shipping/receiving.

“Manitoba’s growing aboriginal population is young and ambitious, and must form a significant part of our workforce,” said Chief Glenn Hudson, Peguis First Nation. “Increasing training and employment opportunities for aboriginal people makes smart business sense.”

The Arborg Bifrost area has four large manufacturing firms — Vidir Machine, Okno Manufacturing, Pro-Fab Group Industries and Diemo Machine Works Inc. The firms build and export farm and heating equipment, commercial and industrial storage products and custom goods. They also generate millions of dollars in revenue, job opportunities and international recognition for Manitoba’s manufacturing sector, the premier added.

“One of the biggest challenges for these manufacturers is access to a reliable, local supply of labour,” said Premier Selinger. “The Employment Readiness Program will help ensure well-trained workers are available where and when they’re needed.”

“We are pleased to collaborate on this project because we are delivering training in the communities where it is needed and working closely with employers to meet their needs,” said Pat McCallum, economic development officer, Arborg Bifrost Community Development Corporation.

Training providers include Workplace Education Manitoba (Essential Skills Assessment and Upgrading), the University of Winnipeg (Employment Readiness Modules) and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (Manufacturing Workplace Core Competencies).

“By establishing a range of core manufacturing workplace competencies, we are developing human capital with long-term benefits for rural aboriginal participants,” said Paul Holden, president and CEO, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology.

The Rural Municipality of Bifrost is located approximately 100 km north of Winnipeg along the western shore of Lake Winnipeg. It surrounds the town of Arborg and the village of Riverton and is part of the province’s Interlake region. The Arborg Bifrost Community Development Corporation is a provider of economic development products and services in Arborg.

The Employment Readiness Program will wrap up in January.

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