Indigenous students continue to gain meaningful employment through marine industry partnerships

Camosun College’s Coastal Centre reports that 100 per cent of students recently enrolled in a collaborative marine industry program received employment immediately upon graduation. The Ship Repair Entry Level Training (SRELT) program was delivered as part of a four-year Aboriginal Marine Training and Employment Program (AMTEP) between the Coast Salish Employment and Training Society (CSETS), the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) and BladeRunners.

The program runs out of the Camosun Coastal Centre, located on Songhees Nation territory, adjacent to the Esquimalt Graving Dock. The goal of the SRELT program is to provide Indigenous people with certified training leading directly into employment in the marine industry. Following the intake of students from last year’s cohort, the demand from industry for trained shipyard employees was so high that the decision was made to run the course again this summer.

Throughout the program students had the opportunity to go on tours and complete work experience with local industry including: Seaspan Victoria Shipyards, Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton, Point Hope Shipyards, and the Esquimalt Graving Dock Public Services and Procurement Canada.  Apart from industry-standard training and certifications, the program also equips students with essential soft skills, such team building, money management and public speaking.

“The cultural gap is being closed by the training taking place and the opportunity to integrate Indigenous students into the workplace,” adds Bruce Underwood, Executive Director of CSETS. “This creates a vision of leadership in the south island region by growing a program that is culturally appropriate to our communities.” 

The program provides students with a wide array of the necessary certificates needed to work in industry. “Students are coming to us confident, which is important as the shipyard has an immediate need for qualified labourers,” says Fred Goddard, Labour and Paint Manager at Seaspan. Goddard hired all 16 students this year because each student had the baseline training required to succeed in the labour department.

“We are training potential employees for an industry that is booming right now,” adds Reg Gladstone, Job Coach and AMTEP Officer at CSETS. “They are confident, industry ready, industry certified and ready to hit the ground running.”

“The learning is non-stop, all the instructors are very knowledgeable and I learned skills I didn’t know I needed,” says recent graduate Michael Morris from Tsartlip First Nation. “Getting this job has been life-changing for me and my growing family. I am very thankful for the opportunity,” says Brian Harry from Tsawout First Nation.

Michelle Traoré, Manager of the Camosun Coastal Centre believes strongly in the importance of creating opportunities for local Indigenous people to interact directly with local employers to develop confidence and acquire the skills needed to be a successful employee. “We work closely with students to identify potential barriers to education and employment so that we can ensure once students are finished training they can achieve long-term success.”

“What takes the classroom learning to the next level is the opportunity for students to work hands-on with local companies. We are so grateful for the ongoing support from our industry partners, local Indigenous communities, and families supporting the students,” says Traoré.

About the Camosun Coastal Centre

The Camosun Coastal Centre is a state-of-the-art training facility located on Songhees Nation Territory near the Esquimalt Graving Dock. At this satellite site, Camosun College offers both customized and open enrollment coastal and marine-related courses; creates customized programs for Indigenous communities; develops new Continuing Education courses; and offers space rental for local organizations and community groups.

About the Coast Salish Employment and Training Society

Coast Salish Employment and Training Society was created in 1997 through an agreement between 19 Coast Salish First Nations and three Aboriginal Friendship Centres, funded by Service Canada ASETS. The purpose of CSETS is to assist the member Nations so that they may gain employment training or attain funding that will allow them to be employable. Employment for our Nations is the main goal for CSETS.

Plans are underway to schedule the next delivery of the SRELT program. Those who are interested are encouraged to contact Michelle Traoré at 250-580-8736, or

Read the original press release here:

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