FREDERICTON (CNB) – A $4.1-million training-for-employment program was announced today, providing opportunities for Aboriginal people in New Brunswick in information and communications technology.

The three-year New Brunswick Aboriginal Information and Communications Technology project is expected, at the same time, to help address the labour shortage in the province’s information and communications sector.

"This investment demonstrates our government's commitment to expand Aboriginal people's participation in New Brunswick's economic and social progress," said Premier David Alward, who is also the minister responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat. "It will also help to strengthen New Brunswick's information and communications industry, promote innovation in our economy and foster economic development throughout our province."

Under the project, information and communications technology employers will work with the Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative to recruit at least 150 Aboriginal persons in New Brunswick. A focus will be providing industry-driven training to help participants prepare for future employment.

"In a constantly evolving labour market, it is important that Canadians get the skills and training they need to succeed," said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield. "Our government is working with stakeholders to ensure Aboriginal people are able to take full advantage of economic opportunities and get good jobs."

Ashfield made the announcement on behalf of Diane Finley, minister of human resources and Skills Development Canada.

"This is an excellent opportunity for the Mi'kmaq and Wolastoqiyik people of New Brunswick  to participate in the evolving information and communications technology sector," said Alex Dedam, chair of the Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative. "This growing sector provides the opportunity to continue to engage the Aboriginal communities, industry and our various governments as well as to build new partnerships that will turn into long-lasting relationships. We are excited to build on our past success and provide a great opportunity for the Aboriginal people of New Brunswick to obtain industry-driven training that will lead to rewarding careers."

Led by the Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative, the project involves First Nations communities and organizations, the provincial and federal governments and information and communications technology employers represented by the New Brunswick Information Technology Council and Tech South East. The project is funded by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's Skills and Partnership Fund, the provincial government and other partners.

The Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative, through its partnership with various levels of government and the Joint Economic Development Initiative, is an incorporated, provincial non-profit organization that has been instrumental in providing support programs since 2009.

The Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative, which is part of the Joint Economic Development Initiative, represents a link to meet labour market demand with location solutions from the Aboriginal population in New Brunswick. The reach of the initiative is enhanced through its partnerships with First Nations in the province.