Felix Spence: Aboriginal Training Liaison
Our staff strive to get the word out that skilled trades are legitimate and potentially lucrative careers and the kind of jobs that allow our communities to incorporate locally.
Local 34 - Civil Service, Administration Component
The aboriginal population is the fastest growing human resource in Manitoba and throughout Canada. At the same time, the demand for skilled workers is rising steadily due to an aging workforce. Put them together, you have a win-win for our economy.
Just ask Felix Spence, Aboriginal Training Liaison at Apprenticeship Manitoba. Every day, he reaches out to aboriginal communities throughout the province to promote apprenticeship opportunities that will allow them to work towards certification in a trade.
“Qualified tradespeople are in demand in all sectors;” Spence says, “that includes the Transportation, Industrial, Construction and Service sectors. Our staff strive to get the word out that skilled trades are legitimate and potentially lucrative careers and the kind of jobs that allow our communities to incorporate locally or allow the apprentice or journeyperson to become mobile…to go where the jobs are.”
A key part of his job involves communicating with community leaders and helping them to assess the economic development plans in their community and determine what trades may be utilized; whether it’s carpenters, electricians or even cooks and hairstylists.
“Often I can help them access funding to assist offsetting the costs for training their community members,” Spence says. “If there is enough participation, technical/in-school training may even be delivered in the community so the participants don’t have to leave home."
"There are many benefits of hiring and training locally,” Spence says. When Aboriginal Manitobans practice their trade in their community, the revenue stays at home and the community becomes more self-sufficient. He also sees that certified trades people demonstrate an increased professional attitude, a sense of pride in their work and enjoy the acknowledgement and respect of their peers.
“Not to mention the benefit to contractors,” he adds. “It’s always easier when there are qualified workers in the area who can be hired locally.”
Spence is currently striving to encourage more women to participate in apprenticeship programs. His favorite part of the job is watching an individual work hard through the program to eventually attain certification.
“When they thank you and acknowledge you for the support, it’s a great feeling,” he says.
For more information on apprenticeship training and programs, visit www.manitoba.ca/tradecareers.