Kevin O’Brien, minister of advanced education and skills, made an appearance at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Friday to celebrate the apparent success of the Labrador Aboriginal Training Program (LATP).
Kevin O’Brien, minister of advanced education and skills, makes a speech at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Friday. — Photo by Derek Montague/The Labradorian
Lake Melville MHA Keith Russell; Nick McGrath, minister responsible for Labrador and aboriginal affairs; Gilbert Bennett, Nalcor vice-president, Lower Churchill project; Keith Jacque, executive director of the Labrador Aboriginal Training Partnership, and representatives from Labrador’s aboriginal groups were in attendance.
The LATP was a partnership formed with Labrador’s three aboriginal groups and Nalcor Energy in 2009. The goal of the LATP is to prepare Inuit, Innu, and NunatuKavut Labradorians for employment opportunities at the Muskrat Falls project.
“This is not just about one project. They’ll hold those skills for the rest of their lives, to able to take advantage of any other opportunity that we have as a government, in the process,” said O’Brien.
“As we celebrate the power of co-operation today, we are also celebrating the future of opportunity for young Labradorians and Newfoundlanders.”
Between 2010 and 2012, the provincial government has poured $30 million into the partnership, with another $14 million added in June 2013. The new money is expected to carry the program through to 2015.
Since the beginning of the partnership, LATP has trained nearly 400 aboriginals, with 120 going on to work on the Muskrat Falls project. As of September 2013, 462 Labradorians were employed at Muskrat Falls, 207 of whom are aboriginal. There are 130 going through the program now.
Bennett said that he’s very pleased with the results so far from the LATP.
“There’s a broad variety of training opportunities, and I’m pretty pleased that they’ve turned it into 120 new positions at the project,” he said.
“They have positions such as heavy equipment operators, electricians, truck drivers, carpenters, occupational health and safety professionals, labourers, camp attendants, environmental monitors, engineers, as well as supervisory and management positions.”
Jacque, however, says he’s not satisfied with the numbers and wants to see them climb in 2014.
“It’s definitely not where we expected to be. We trained a lot of people … (but) we’ll get the numbers up. I think the key thing now is to work with the subcontractors,” he said.
“I don’t want to put a number on it … but I definitely need to see numbers up higher than (120). We’ll work closely with Nalcor to see that happens.”
Jacque also pointed out that, even though the LATP was formed with Muskrat Falls in mind, many aboriginals trained through the program have been getting jobs throughout the province.
“It can be employment in general, but we geared it towards Muskrat Falls. But a lot of training is transferrable skills … so they’re not obligated to go to Muskrat Falls.”