Local agency wins award

Job Connect, a program offered through Northern Community Development Services, recently received the prestigious “Service Innovation Award” from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
“The board and staff of NCDS recognize the importance of skills training and development to our local economy,” noted executive director Jennifer Greenhalgh.
“What has become apparent to us is that First Nations are under-represented in the apprenticeship and skills trades,” she added.
“If you consider the fact that First Nations are an ever-increasing percentage of the workforce, we felt it was necessary to reach out to our First Nations neighbours with the intention of creating a partnership.”
The Service Innovation Award was presented to NCDS by Chris Bentley, minister of Training, Colleges & Universities, back on Nov. 20 at an awards dinner in Toronto.
This was the only award presented to a northern Job Connect agency!
The Award for Service Innovation recognizes unique and creative business practices that have resulted in improved Job Connect services.
The program, called “The Aboriginal Bridge,” is aimed at assisting First Nations to take ownership over the development of skills and trades for their citizens.
After developing partnerships in the community, and applying and receiving approval for funding from the Northwest Training & Adjustment Board, the staff of Job Connect started by planning a forum to raise the level of awareness of skilled trades within the aboriginal workforce.
In the last year, the number of aboriginal youth working in skilled trades—and now eligible to be placed in apprenticeship programs—has increased by 35 percent as of September.
However, only three aboriginal youths currently are apprenticed in the Kenora/Rainy River districts.
“We believe it is a good first step and we are willing to take the lead in engaging aboriginal youth,” said Greenhalgh. “It is something the aboriginal communities identified in the brainstorming session we held recently.
“They wanted to meet and discuss potential avenues and models to build apprenticeship programs, and we are proud assist in accomplishing this.”
Northern Community Development Services has been in operation since 1975, and will continue to be reflective of the clients it serves through initiatives such as this service.