NAP: Enhancing Cultural Safety in the Workplace

Issue: 18

Dec 06, 2023
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NWAC’s National Apprenticeships Program (NAP), which is funded by the Government of Canada, aims to reach communities across Canada through regular information sessions that are delivered online. To spread the word, the NAP Team has sent invitations by postal mail directly to First Nations communities, inviting interested Indigenous women and 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals to join our conversations. We have also reached out to thousands of organizations, including friendship centres and local colleges.

These efforts have led to positive results.

Through our program, many Indigenous women and 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals are able to envision a future for themselves in the trades, where they never thought they would find a fit. They are paving the way for many others who wish to join the skilled trades in the future.

A number of communities and centres have given an Indigenous woman a chance to learn a trade through the program. In October and November alone, we have placed five apprentices in welding businesses, most of them in the Prairies. Other apprentices started their journey as a carpenter, millwright, or HVAC mechanic.

Businesses need skilled employees. But bringing women into male-dominated environments requires change and a commitment by businesses to providing equal treatment to Indigenous women and 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals.

Our training modules have a huge educational piece, where small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) receive training on a number of fronts.

Diversity and Inclusion Training

Through NAP, our team builds understanding of and knowledge about the history, culture, traditions, and rights of Indigenous Peoples. Effective communication is crucial in any workplace, and our training modules emphasize the need for employers to incorporate ethical values and cultural safety into the workplace.

To ensure that businesses truly embrace diversity and inclusion, employers are encouraged to reflect on their existing practices and identify any barriers that might hinder Indigenous women and 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals from pursuing careers in the skilled trades. Employers evaluate their policies, processes, and workplace culture, and are encouraged to make any necessary changes to create a safe and inclusive environment. This may include addressing implicit biases, providing cultural sensitivity training for existing staff, and implementing policies that promote equal opportunity for all.

This inclusive approach not only promotes diversity but also enhances the overall productivity and success of the SME.

By promoting respectful and inclusive communication practices, businesses create an environment where every individual feels valued and respected. This helps to break down stereotypes, prejudices, and biases, and fosters a more harmonious and productive workplace.

By equipping employers with the necessary knowledge and skills to create a safe and inclusive environment, we ensure that every apprentice has a fair and equal opportunity to learn and grow.

Recruitment, Retention, and Mentorship Training

SMEs that hire apprentices through our program also receive training on topics that will benefit their business. Our training modules offer tips on how to recruit, retain, and mentor Indigenous women and 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals

One aspect of our training modules focuses on recruitment strategies that target Indigenous women and 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals. We provide guidance on how to develop outreach programs and partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations. By actively engaging with these communities, businesses can create a pipeline of talented individuals who may have otherwise been overlooked or faced barriers in accessing employment opportunities.

Retention and mentorship are also key components of our program. We understand the importance of providing ongoing support and guidance to apprentices to ensure their success in the skilled trades industry. Our training modules include strategies for employers to establish effective mentorship programs, fostering connections between experienced tradespeople and apprentices. Mentorship not only enhances the skills and knowledge transfer process but also creates a supportive environment where apprentices can thrive.

The National Apprenticeships Program is dedicated to supporting businesses in their journey towards establishing equitable and inclusive workplaces. By providing training on the recruitment, retention, and mentorship of Indigenous women and 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals, as well as emphasizing effective communication and cultural safety, businesses can create an environment that values diversity and ensures equal opportunities for all. By actively addressing barriers to equity and inclusion, companies not only fulfill their moral obligations but also enhance their own success in the market.

Together, we can build a more inclusive skilled trades industry that benefits all participants—apprentice employees and SMEs.