Helping Indigenous youth get skills training and supports needed to get good jobs 

News release

June 21, 2021              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Today, during National Indigenous History Month and on the 25th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day, it is important to recognize the history, heritage, cultures and countless contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We know the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Indigenous peoples. That is why the Government of Canada continues to make historic investments and work collaboratively to ensure Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous youth, have the supports and opportunities they need to build long-lasting careers to support themselves and their families.

To mark the day, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, highlighted over $116 million that the Government of Canada is investing through Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS). This investment will provide young people, including Indigenous youth, with the supports and skills training they need to get a head start on their careers.

Across the country, 78 organizations funded through ESDC’s YESS program are delivering 78 projects that will serve close to 8,000 young people, including Indigenous youth. Over 40 of these organizations are Indigenous-led.

One such organization, the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada, has received almost $2 million to deliver Pathways to Success, a project through which 500 Indigenous youth in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario will gain skills that will help prepare them for their future careers. Skills building services include one-on-one mentoring, helping preparing résumés, and job interview coaching.

Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada committed an additional $5.7 billion over the next five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education, acquire new skills and access more work opportunities. This is on top of the $7.4 billion already invested to support young Canadians during the pandemic. Thousands more young Canadians will be able to benefit from the following historic Government investments:

  • 30,600 new job placements through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy in 2021–22;
  • 220,000 job placements through Canada Summer Jobs over the next two years;
  • an expected 50,000 work-integrated learning opportunities through the Student Work Placement Program in 2021–22;
  • at least 85,000 work-integrated learning placements through Mitacs over the next five years starting in 2021–22; and
  • 28,000 training and work opportunities for young Canadians through the Canada Digital Technology Adoption program.

The Government of Canada is dedicated to the work it must do to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. As Canada reopens its economy, ESDC programs delivered by Indigenous partners, such as the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program, will play a key role in ensuring Indigenous communities thrive and come back stronger than ever.


“Every young person deserves a chance to succeed and move forward in their career. By taking bold action and thinking outside the box, our government is ensuring that Canada’s recovery is inclusive and sets up young Canadians, especially Indigenous youth, for success. The Indigenous Professional Association of Canada is a fantastic example of how organizations can work with the Government of Canada to create meaningful, long-lasting change in the lives of Indigenous youth. When we give young Canadians the tools and opportunities they need to succeed, we are not only helping them build long and fulfilling careers, but also strengthening our economy.”

 – Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

“Indigenous Youth represent the future. By investing in their development we are doing what’s right for our country’s economic growth. Empowering the next generation is key and with our program’s partnership with the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy program, various industries our hope is that Indigenous youth can reach their full potential.”

– Krystal Abotossaway, President of the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada

Quick facts

  • About 44% of the Indigenous population is under 25 years old, compared with 28% of the non-Indigenous population. The employment rate among off-reserve Indigenous youth in May 2021 was 45.9%, compared to 51.6% for non-Indigenous youth. 

  • In April 2020, the Government of Canada invested $492 million over three years through ESDC’s YESS program, for 269 projects across Canada to help young people facing barriers to employment successfully transition to the labour market. 

  • To support youth affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada announced increased funding by up to $187.7 million in April and June 2020 to the YESS program to create 9,500 more work opportunities for young Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to employment. YESS projects managed by ESDC received up to $40 million for national programs that are providing flexible supports and targeted job opportunities for up to 6,200 youth aged 15 to 30, which surpasses the initial target of 4,700 jobs, in the areas of social support services, transport, information technology, research and administration, and other placements that support community needs.

  • Canada Summer Jobs is part of the YESS program, which helps youth gain the skills and experience they need to successfully transition to the labour market. The program strives to give young Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30 paid work opportunities so that they can grow professionally and improve their skills in the not-for-profit, small business and public sectors. It also supports the delivery of key community services to Canadians. This year’s national priorities included organizations that provide service to Indigenous youth.

  • The Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program is a distinctions-based labour market program designed to help First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban/non-affiliated Indigenous people improve their skills and meet their long-term career goals. The program funds a network of over 110 Indigenous service delivery organizations with over 650 points of service to provide Indigenous people with training and supports to improve their skills and secure employment.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Ashley Michnowski
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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