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Prince George program part of poverty reduction plan

Shane Simpson
Shane Simpson

A Prince George program will provide training and create jobs opportunities as part of the province’s new poverty reduction strategy.

“Willing and capable people who want to work find the confidence and the opportunity they need to reach their goals through programs, such as The First Peoples Hospitality Program,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, in making the announcement at the Native Friendship Centre Tuesday morning. “This is the kind of project that is at the heart of TogetherBC. It builds skills and supports people in their communities.”

The First Peoples Hospitality Program, run by LaKeCoRe Management & Training through WorkBC, is a 26-week program that provides students with 18 weeks of essential employability and occupational skills training, such as strategies for success, computer skills and hospitality operations training, as well as six weeks of on-the-job work experience with local industry partners. The students then have two weeks of followup and job-search support to prepare participants for employment in the hotel and hospitality sector in the Prince George region.

Up to 20 local young adults will receive a training in the program, which has partnered with local hotels and inns to help ensure participants will receive job opportunities upon completing the training program.

“The First Peoples Hospitality Program is focused on creating training opportunities for local Indigenous people who are not just looking for a job, but a career path that is fulfilling,” said Lawney Chabot, president, LaKeCoRe Management & Training. “Through this program, we are able to individualize training for each participant to make sure they are reaching their potential and on their way to sustainable local employment.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has committed approximately $196,000 in funding for this project through the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.

“This program is giving me the confidence to get out there and find a stable and secure job, knowing that I have the skills I need to get a job that I am actually excited about,” said Darven Michell, a participant in The First Peoples Hospitality Program.

The project was announced during a followup announcement in Prince George about the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC. British Columbia has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, yet the province still has a high rate of poverty, reflecting a deficit in regional economic development and unfair wages, in addition to a backlog of need for access to basic education and training skills.

“Community plays a major role in reducing poverty,” said Barb Ward-Burkitt, executive director, Prince George Native Friendship Centre. “We need to make sure people have the supports and services they need here at home and ensure that they feel included and valued by their communities.”

Two groups of eight to 10 participants will be accepted into the program. The first group started training Nov. 26, 2018, and is scheduled to complete the program on April 5, 2019. The second group will begin training April 15, 2019, and complete the program by Oct. 11, 2019. The program must meet an 80 per cent completion rate, as well as an 80 per cent satisfaction rate with the project.