Northern Labour Market Committee History
Development of the Northern Labour Market Committee
In 1983, agencies involved in funding training programs in Northern Saskatchewan began to meet regularly to discuss upcoming labour market issues in the region and ways to jointly fund training programs. These meetings were an important means for agencies to overcome the challenges of addressing the needs of:
· a small but growing population widely distributed over a huge, often isolated region;
· an under-skilled labour force; and
· expanding mining and service industries.
Within the year, the group had established itself as the Northern Labour Market Committee, had formalized its terms of reference, and had established a link at the provincial level of labour market planning. The foundation of the Northern Labour Market Committee was its mandate "... to identify and assess emerging labour market issues in northern Saskatchewan and to develop recommendations and initiate actions toward the resolution of such issues."
The Committee consisted of 10 agencies and was facilitated and chaired by the northern offices of Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training and Canada Manpower. Membership included 3 northern colleges, Gabriel Dumont Institute, Sask. Indian Community College, Metis Society, a native employment service (funded by Canada Manpower), and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
The Northern Labour Market Committee soon developed into a forum for the discussion of northern issues and an agency for strategic planning. The Committee also began to establish small task-oriented sub-committees as a means of forming effective stakeholder partnerships to address regional and industrial employment and training issues.
In 1996, the provincial Department of Northern Affairs was established and became another lead member of the Committee. The Committee's mandate was expanded to encompass economic development issues as well as training and employment.
The Committee has grown to include decision-makers from over 80 different agencies among training, funding, economic development, governments, Aboriginal agencies, and industry sectors operating in the northern region of Saskatchewan.
Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training continues to provide administrative and financial support to the Committee, many of its subcommittees, and for special projects. Northern Affairs, which acts as a permanent co-chair to the Committee, contributes an important link to provincial leadership. Other member agencies contribute their time as co-chairs on a rotating basis and through their efforts on the task-oriented subcommittees.
The mandate for the Committee is to:
· Identify labour market, training, and economic development issues emerging in northern Saskatchewan.
· Initiate special projects that are action- and results-oriented to address these issues.
· Coordinate and facilitate cooperative planning and actions among agencies.
· Provide a forum in which to exchange information.
· Prepare an annual profile of the labour market and industrial sectors in northern Saskatchewan to assist in program planning.
Its successes include:
· The 10-year Multi-Party Training Plan linking training to employment in the mineral sector, implemented in 1993 and administered by mineral industry representatives. This initiative has won 3 national and provincial awards for innovation in partnerships.
· The 5-year cooperative, training-to-employment Forestry Partnership initiated in 2001 to address the skill and professional training needs of the expanding provincial forestry industry.
· The Northern Neighbours Project to be implemented in 2002 to prepare northerners to take advantage of employment and economic opportunities associated with the Alberta Oil Sands.
· Four local training councils that assess community labour market issues.
· North-wide strategic planning under the Education and Training Sub-Committee, which facilitates a collaborative approach in the planning and delivery of education and post?secondary education in northern Saskatchewan.
· Training and services facilitated for apprentices, workers in traditional economies, youth, the disabled, and career/job seekers.
· A health sector partnership of the 3 northern health districts/authorities, which is developing a strategy to address health care skill shortages in the north.
· An annual regional training needs and labour market overview to assist program planners.
Over the course of its 19 years, the Northern Labour Market Committee has done much to engender a sense of cooperation among the labour market partners in the north. As well, it has promoted the development of an atmosphere in which training is valued as a key means to enable northern people to participate in the economic development of the province.