Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut November 16, 2017 - 8:00 am

New Nunavut training fund to boost Inuit jobs in mining sector

Program aims to train 360 workers over four-year period

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
A new program aims to train 360 Inuit between now and March 2021, in areas like work readiness, mining essentials, heavy equipment operating and trades apprenticeships. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BAFFINLAND)
A new program aims to train 360 Inuit between now and March 2021, in areas like work readiness, mining essentials, heavy equipment operating and trades apprenticeships. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BAFFINLAND)

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association is kickstarting a $19-million employment program for Baffin Inuit with new funding from the federal government and Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.

The QIA announced the new Qikiqtani Skills and Training for Employment Partnerships, or Q-STEP, Nov. 15, which aims to train hundreds of Inuit to work in the mining sector.

The four-year program will operate with a $19-million budget: $7.9 million from Ottawa and $9.4 million from Baffinland, which runs the Mary River iron mine about halfway between Pond Inlet and Igloolik.

The Kakivik Association will provide another $1.6 million in in-kind support and the Government of Nunavut will contribute operations support.

“We want all Qikiqtani Inuit to have good meaningful work that challenges them, keeps them current in today’s job market and offers stability for their families,” said QIA President P.J. Akeeagok in a Nov. 17 release.

The program aims to train 360 Inuit between now and March 2021, in areas like work readiness, mining essentials, heavy equipment operating and trades apprenticeships.

Baffinland has said it will hire 25 Inuit directly out of the work readiness part of the program, while also giving hiring preference to other graduates of the program.

Baffinland and the QIA have initially agreed on a goal of a 25 per cent Inuit workforce at the Mary River mine by 2016.

While Inuit employment was as high as 20 per cent of the mine’s workforce last year, it had dropped to 12.5 per cent by early 2017.

That’s considerably lower than Agnico Eagle Mining Ltd.’s Meadowbank mine and Meliadine project in the Kivalliq region, where Inuit reportedly made up about a third of the workforce. 

To help Baffinland and other employers identify Inuit who are qualified for employment or training, the QIA said it plans to launch an Inuit labour pool database, called Tuttarvik.

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