In September 2017, CEDEC joined forces with Kebaowek First Nation, a tiny community of 800 Algonquin people in Kipawa, Quebec and several other partners to create an employability training program for Kebaowek’s youth to prepare them for future tourism job opportunities at the new Opémican National Park, set to open in 2018 with an official opening in 2019.
Just over a year later, on November 30, a special graduation ceremony took place in Kebaowek to honour five students who successfully completed their integrated training program.
The creation of the park on traditional Algonquin territory set the stage for a dynamic partnership with a local employer, Sépaq, to create targeted employability and essential skills training for the youth of Kebaowek to help them successfully apply for jobs at the park and other opportunities within the tourism and culture sector.
With lack of French language skills identified as the first hurdle to full employment, the partnership team designed a training experience that integrated job-ready language skills along with the technical and soft skills that would ensure employment success at the park.
The result was an integrated model of education that would focus on a task-based approach to learning which required three partners to be effective: the community, Kebaoewek First Nation, the employer, Sépaq, and a training partner, First Nations Adult Education School Council.
Within just seven months, a cohort of students started a two-month Francisation course followed by a summer work placement at Opémican park where they practiced their new language skills in an authentic work environment alongside Sépaq staff. Following the work placement, the students returned to the classroom to fine tune their language training and Sépag has invited the five graduates to submit their application in the next round of hiring in early 2019 as they prepare for the next summer season.
The success of this first pilot community for the Co Op Vocational Training project is a promising model for this type of customized integrated training and we will follow the students’ progress as they integrate into the labour market.
CEDEC is now applying this model in a second community. Participants from Gesgapegiag, an English-speaking Mi’gmaq community, started a training program in partnership with The Anchor, Adult Education Vocational Centre in New Carlisle, QC to build capacity to deliver culturally-derived tourism products and services. This is part of a larger context of the need for bilingual customer service employees in the Gaspésie to grow a regional tourism industry.
To know more about how this model could work in your workplace or community, contact CEDEC for more information.