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Creating Jobs for Inuit

by Nicola on 2015-10-21

Inuit Job Creation: A Practical Intervention to Promote

Equity and Mental Health

Dr Nicola Davies

Unemployment and financial problems are among the leading causes of depression the world over. In Nunavut, with food costing more than it does in less Northerly areas, the problem is compounded, particularly for those who have families to look after.

Government Employment

Local government has been working to provide relief for the unemployed by striving to achieve proportionate representation of 85% people of Inuit ethnicity within its workforce, and by providing training programs that would give Inuit a better chance of landing government and private sector jobs. 

Employment and training targets have been set, and it is hoped that the initiative will gain momentum. A June 2015 report found that in the 5 years from 1999 to 2014, the percentage of Inuit in government jobs had risen from 44% to 50%: not exactly ‘rapid progress,’ but progress nonetheless.

Private Sector and Government Subsidies

From 2004 to 2014, Inuit unemployment in Nunavut decreased – but only by a little more than 2%. In 2014, the percentage of the working-age population who didn’t have jobs stood at 16.5%. Although the government is making an effort to employ and train more Inuit, more private sector jobs could help to alleviate the situation. 

The Canada-Nunavut Labour Market Development Agreement (LDMA) provides funding that may help to make a difference.

The Adult Learning and Training Supports program (ALTS) helps with skills development. In addition, the Training on the Job (TOJ) program provides subsidies of up to 50% of trainee wages to small and medium enterprises who are willing to employ and train Nunavut locals. You can find out more about employment under this program by talking to your Career Development Officer. 

Although you might initially work for a low wage, you will gain valuable skills – and you’ll have the proverbial ‘foot in the door.’ Impress your TOJ employer by trying your best, and you could land a permanent position. The Canada-Nunavut Job Grant also pays employers to train their workers so that they can get better jobs thanks to their skills.

Those who believe they have what it takes to start their own successful businesses can take advantage of the Nunavut Entrepreneurship Initiative (NEI), which provides financial assistance, career counselling, and business start-up advice from professional consultants. 

How can you ensure you benefit from these programs?

With few employment opportunities opening up every year, you can’t expect to have an easy time getting a job or landing a training opportunity. However, persistence can pay off. Talk to your Career Development Officer (CDO) and persevere until you have a clear way forward. Your CDO is also the place to start if you think you have a business idea that can allow you to be self-employed, but don’t have the resources to get started. 

You might be offered a training opportunity through your CDO, and although you won’t make much money while you are learning, it will open up better opportunities in the future, as long as you are willing to commit to seeing your training through. 

It’s not easy to find a good job, but there is help available

Working to find a job can be a job in itself. It’s easy to become discouraged when your efforts don’t seem to be getting you anywhere, but if you tough it out and keep trying your best, you may well benefit from one or more of the training and employment initiatives that have been put in place to help you. If you give up, all the effort you have put in so far will be wasted. Remember: when the going gets tough, the tough get going!


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