REGINA, Sask. — Saskatchewan has launched an Aboriginal apprenticeship program to help address the looming shortage of heavy-duty mechanics.
The partnership, between the province’s Highways and Transportation Department and aboriginal communities, was recently announced in Prince Albert.
“Within the next 10 years, nearly 80 per cent of our current Fleet Services mechanical staff will be eligible for retirement,” Highways and Transportation Minister Mark Wartman said. “This program addresses a current shortfall of heavy-duty mechanics, as well as working toward the future needs of the department and Aboriginal people.”
The province will pay 50 per cent of the cost of putting an Aboriginal through a journeyperson mechanics program. The remainder of the cost will be paid by First Nations and Metis organizations.
“This is an opportunity for our young people to gain education and employment in a rapidly-changing field,” Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief Gary Merasty said. “This program will not only support Aboriginal communities, but also forge stronger ties with government that hopefully lead to more initiatives such as this.”
Wartman added: “Working together, we can achieve a number of efficiencies for not only the department of Highways and Transportation, but also other departments and Crown Corporations. Fleet Services can develop a segment of tomorrow’s workplace, which will benefit the Aboriginal community and ultimately, Saskatchewan.”
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