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Unemployment rates for aboriginals dropping faster than for non-aboriginals

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    Unemployment rates for aboriginals dropping faster than for non-aboriginals Meagan Fitzpatrick Canwest News Service Tuesday, March 04, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2008
      Unemployment rates for aboriginals dropping faster than for non-aboriginals

      Meagan Fitzpatrick
      Canwest News Service

      Tuesday, March 04, 2008

      OTTAWA - Canada's aboriginal people remain more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-aboriginal people, Statistics Canada said Tuesday in its 2006 census release on the country's labour force.

      This finding comes even though unemployment rates are dropping more quickly for aboriginal people than non-aboriginal people, the study said.

      The unemployment rate among core working-age aboriginal people - those aged 25 to 54 - in 2006 was down 4.2 percentage points (to 13.2 in 2006 from 17.4 per cent in 2001) while the unemployment rate for non-aboriginal people dropped only 0.8 percentage points to 5.2 per cent.

      The labour force data showed that employment rates were up for Inuit, Metis and First Nations groups. As a whole, the employment rate for aboriginal Canadians in 2006 was 65.8 per cent, an increase from 61.2 per cent five years earlier.

      Despite the improvements, "substantial gaps" persist between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples when it comes to employment, Statistics Canada said.

      Kelly Lendsay is at the head of an organization, the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, trying to bridge the gap between employers and the aboriginal workforce. In a recent interview with Canwest News Service he said employers are "crying for skilled people" and Canada's fast-growing and young population is a solution that is still being overlooked.

      "Some of our population is ready to go to work right now, some of it needs some investment, in the sense of skills, and some of our aboriginal people need a lot of investment because of a history of exclusion," Lendsay said. "But with these investments and partnerships we've demonstrated that aboriginal people can personally find fulfilling careers and employers can build their workforce with aboriginal people."

      While there's still a long way to go, Lendsay says progress is being made and aboriginal people are increasingly "job-ready" and looking for an employer to give them an opportunity.

      Data contained in a separate census report also released Tuesday, titled Educational Portrait of Canada, backs up Lendsay's comments.

      It showed that 44 per cent of the aboriginal population in 2006 were post-secondary graduates of some kind. An estimated 19 per cent had a college diploma, 14 per cent had trade credentials and eight per cent had a university degree.

      Because of changes in the census questions, it's not possible to make direct comparisons with 2001 data, except for university degree attainment. The 2006 data demonstrated a growing number of university-educated aboriginal people, up to eight per cent of the population from six per cent five years earlier.

      The report indicated that the gap between university-educated aboriginal people and non-aboriginal remains large - eight per cent compared to 23 per cent.

      Lendsay says if the gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians were closed in terms of education and employment then the country's gross domestic product would increase by $160 billion by 2017.

      Everybody would win if aboriginal people had higher employment rates, he says. "This is a good solution for Canada, it's a good solution for companies and it's a good solution for aboriginal people."

      According to the 2006 census the number of people who identified themselves as an aboriginal surpassed the one million mark, and between 2001 and 2006 the aboriginal population grew six times faster than the non-aboriginal population.

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