Essential Skills for Indigenous Business

This practical, skills-based program is designed for individuals facing barriers, who are planning to enter into the workforce for the first time, return after an absence, or those changing careers. After completing training using workplace simulation methods, learners will be eligible to work in a variety of business industries (including tourism, food and beverage, hospitality, financial, and other customer service related positions). Employment placements are available upon the program’s completion, or the program can ladder into business related post-secondary training.

Essential Skills for Indigenous Business has been running for 1 year to date – the project started in January 2018. Since then a new cohort has started the program every 3 months, with 4 cohorts having gone through the program thus far.

NEC has developed partnerships with employers that have strong policies on Diversity & Inclusion and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Calls To Action. We partner with employers who will hire students, and we train students for the roles employers are hiring for so that students have a good chance of being hired upon completing the program. We want partnerships that have employment opportunities, not just a practicum or internship, as after a practicum’s completion you can get a lot of participants who drop-off and do not enter employment.

We directly consult with employers to tailor the curriculum for their needs, so that the program can reflect as much as possible the real life skills needed on the job. We will also bring employer partners in to the classroom so they can introduce themselves, share their workplace culture, and share what a day in the life of the role would look like. Employers will also show the career development possibilities that are available from this role.

The program’s approach also makes sure students have the time, support, and mentorship that they need. Indigenous people that are in customer service type roles are brought in to showcase indigenous talent. Guest speakers from different industries that may/may not be customer-service oriented (e.g., entrepreneurs, fashion designers, actors, etc.) are also brought into the program to help participants open up to new perspectives and the unique ways people can carve out their careers.

Students often have a limited knowledge of the diverse career pathways people can take – the program encourages them to mould their career through an Indigenous business perspective, incorporating creative thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset that pushes innovation.


Amanda Kai, Native Education College
285 East 5th Ave. Vancouver BC, V5T 1H2

Project Details
Community Urban
Scope of Project Local
Target Audience First Nations, Youth (15-30 yrs), Adults (31-49 yrs), Older workers (50+ yrs)