Canada’s predicted labour shortage can be seen as advantageous to Indigenous peoples since the First Nations, Inuit and Metis (FN/I/M) populations are younger on average than the rest of the Canadian population and are increasing at a faster rate.
As a result, they are considered the largest untapped labour force in Canadian history, which can augment the labour shortage that manifests in green energy as well as other industries.
Thus, with the right education and training, Indigenous students and new graduates can find themselves gainfully employed in this industry following graduation.
There are opportunities in community energy planning, conservation, wind power, geothermal, solar power, hydro and biomass fields among others. These areas within green energy are located throughout the country, so finding the one that you are well-suited for depends on whether or not you plan to live close to your home community or relocate.
What kind and level of education needed to work in these fields varies depending on the future position that is desired. Education can be from university, college or the skilled trades, and can come from a variety of different programs. Since green energy is a field that is rapidly expanding, there are many different job positions available from more hands-on occupations to office work.
The four syndicates mentioned below illustrate how FN/I/M organizations are simultaneously using and benefiting from green energy, allowing them to serve as models for other enterprises should Indigenous graduates consider becoming entrepreneurs in green energy. They are:
- The Abor Group from the Six Nations reserve in Southern Ontario provides environmental monitoring, habitat restoration and rehabilitation, and home energy and assessment auditing services
- Pukwis Energy Co-op is a 20 MW wind park joint venture between the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and Windfall Ecology Centre in Lake Simcoe, Ontario
- The T’sou-ke Nation’s successful Innovative Clean Energy Fund (ICE) project in Sooke, B.C., features a 400-panel solar system twice the size of any other in B.C.
- The Sagatay (New Beginnings) program at the Na-Me-Res (Native Men’s Residence) in Toronto
5 ways to start your career in green energy
Do some research
Find out which green energy initiatives, if any, currently exist or are in development in and around your community or school.
Thanks to industry and government partnerships and investment, there are more opportunities than ever to bring renewable energy to Aboriginal communities across Canada. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends, family and community leaders that you want to see it in your own community! While it may not necessarily be an official “job,” helping to drive change in your community in one capacity or another can definitely be added to your resume: you might have the opportunity to do research, sit on committees, draft important communications or hold events.
Apply for scholarships
Many public and private energy, oil and gas, and mining companies have scholarships and bursaries specifically for Aboriginal students – some of which go unclaimed! Don’t pass up this opportunity to get some help with your tuition and be connected with top Canadian employers that are currently innovating in green energy.
Complete at least one co-op, internship or summer job in green energy
Most employers in Canada are very interested in hiring and retaining Aboriginal students and recent graduates. A co-op, internship or summer job related to renewable energy will help you figure out which area of this vast industry interests you most and what type of work environment you enjoy, and also provide some great industry contacts.
Blog, tweet and Facebook about it
Be the voice of Indigenous youth in Canada when it comes to green energy. Employers will definitely take notice of your passion and expertise!
Is your dream job a green job? Attend the Green Jobs Forum on Sept. 17, 2012 in Toronto – admission is free! Register now.
To learn more about getting a green job and hatching a career in the green economy, visit TalentEgg’s Green Jobs Career Guide. Visit TalentEgg’s Aboriginal Career Guide to find more career resources for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students and recent graduates.