Thirteen students are hoping they're the first of many graduates from a program aimed at boosting aboriginal involvement in the trades.
The Job Readiness Program is a joint venture between the province, industry, First Nations, and the pipe trades union
A graduation ceremony was held Friday for the first class to complete the eight week course designed to prepare people for apprenticeship programs in plumbing and pipefitting.
Among the grads was Kaine Gladue of the Flying Dust First Nation.
"I myself went through university, went through college and was still not finding that job that'll support my family and me," he said.
Gladue said the next step for him will be getting into SIAST to get his journeyman ticket. He said the program, offered using trainers and facilities from the United Association of Pipe Trades Local 179, is likely to be a hit among aboriginal people.
"I can forsee this program becoming a lot more successful than it is now -- we're going to need a lot more desks," he said.
Terry Parker, business manager for the Saskatchewan Building Trades Council, said the program is one piece in a homegrown solution to the province's labour shortage.
"We can only fill in the gap so much from outside the country," he said, adding: "we have to continue focusing on bringing more First Nations people because they are the future of this province."
That was a sentiment echoed by UA Local 179 business manager Troy Knipple.
"It's a huge opportunity for the province and for the First Nations. In all honesty I feel they've been overlooked for quite a nmber of years. They have a large young population and that's what we need: to bring these people in, to train them and skill them and get them through apprenticeship programs so we can build our province. And they need to be part of that," he said.
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