VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 21, 2012) - The Industry Training Authority (ITA) today celebrated National Aboriginal Day by announcing $3 million in new funding to support increased participation of Aboriginal people in the skilled trades in BC.

"The number of Aboriginal apprentices in B.C. has doubled since 2008 and maintaining that momentum is key to tackling growing skilled labour shortages particularly in the North," says Kevin Evans, CEO of ITA. "In partnership with Aboriginal people, through research and funding innovation, we are gradually bringing down barriers and opening pathways for Aboriginal people to take full advantage of the current and coming opportunities in the trades."

An estimated 450 Aboriginal people will participate in community-based trades training partnerships across the province this year through the ITA's Aboriginal Initiatives program funded through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement. These projects provide a range of supports including essential skills upgrading, pre-apprentice technical training and on-the-job work experience in the trades.

"With the anticipated labour shortage over the next decade, improved access and availability of skills training for Aboriginal people is critical," says Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell. "ITA's programs help empower people to better reach their full potential and demonstrate the government's focus on skills training and job creation as part of the BC Jobs Plan."

The announcement was made at a National Aboriginal Day event hosted by ITA Aboriginal Initiatives and the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC (ATBC) at Klahowya Village in Stanley Park.

In addition, a report commissioned by the ITA was released that explores the barriers facing Aboriginal people in the skilled trades and best-practice approaches that are effectively overcoming them. The report found that success of Aboriginal people in the trades is dependent on essential skills assessment and upgrading, and recruitment and retention.

"Our government's priority is creating jobs and economic growth," says Minister Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. "That is why we are proud to work with the Province of BC, through our government's Labour Market Agreement, to support projects that help Aboriginal people develop the training they need to enter the skilled trades and to participate more fully in Canada's economy."

ITA's Aboriginal Initiatives works collaboratively with the First Nations and Aboriginal community, as well as industry, training providers, unions, government and other stakeholders to increase the number of Aboriginal people choosing careers in the skilled trades.

Learn more about Aboriginal Initiatives:

Contact Information:

Industry Training Authority
Gary McDermott
Director, Aboriginal Initiatives
Cell: 778-785-2425

Edelman Vancouver
Lindsay Marett
604-623-3007 Ext. 310 or Cell: 778-388-3151