SAINT JOHN (CNB) – A training program to help Aboriginal people prepare for work in various trades was launched today.

“We are pleased to support important partnerships that develop new opportunities for First Nations people in our province," said Premier David Alward. "This kind of co-operation can only improve the chances of finding meaningful employment in the province and encourage future career development for anyone looking to better themselves."

The premier is the minister responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat.

The initiative will run in Saint John for 20 weeks, with 11 candidates, covering carpentry, plumbing, and bricklaying. It will also provide training on safety; workplace essential skills; visits to work sites; and two weeks of on-the-job training.

"I am pleased to see this type of partnership," said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Martine Coulombe. "Aboriginal people are typically under-represented as apprentices, and we are confident these types of opportunities will help increase participation."

The initiative is a joint effort by the Apprenticeship and Occupational Certification Branch of the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, the Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative, the New Brunswick Building and Construction Trades Council and the Saint John Construction Association.

Upon completion of the practicum, should an offer of employment be made, the Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative will work with the employer to provide a wage subsidy upon registration of the candidate into an apprenticeship program.

A similar partnership at the Elsipogtog First Nation has resulted in the registration of six carpenter apprentices. They continue to work and receive training toward certification in their community.