A Government of Nunavut employee survey that showed non-Inuit workers receive more formal training than Inuit workers is not reflective of many new GN initiatives, says a senior bureaucrat.
The 2016 survey results, released earlier this month, revealed that 76 per cent of non-Inuit survey respondents and 52 per cent of Inuit survey respondents had received formal training within the past year.
That statistic elicited criticism from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Nunavut Employees Union for not adequately addressing the advancement of land claim beneficiaries.
However, since that voluntary survey was done, the GN has rolled out Inuit-specific training opportunities and has more in the offing, said Virginia Mearns, associate deputy minister with the Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs.
A training travel allowance for Inuit employees has been introduced. A post-secondary education program for Inuit workers who want to pursue a degree has been established, which could lead to entry into new professions within the GN, Mearns said.
To incorporate more Inuit in government policy development, where there is currently “significant under-representation,” Mearns said new training and mentorship arrangements have been put in place.
A career broadening program that will allow Inuit employees to gain on-the-job experience in up to three other positions in different departments in their home communities will be launched in a few months.
The aim is that added skills will help Inuit advance to more senior positions within the government, Mearns said.
“It’s kind of a foundational opportunity for our employees to gain different types of experience but also to give them the opportunity to see what else is out there within the Government of Nunavut in terms of career paths that they want to pursue,” she said. “We felt this was a really good initiative to have in place within our administration just to broaden the horizons.”
In addition, there’s a GN leadership program where Nunavut employees are given priority, Mearns said.
She also acknowledged the disproportionately high number of Inuit in casual positions, something she said the government has been working on changing over the past few years. She pointed out that the new Inuit training initiatives will be open to casual Inuit employees.
“To help further enhance that opportunity to get your foot in the door, you’re getting your foot in the door with new skill sets as well,” she said.
Action taken specifically related to survey results, if any, will depend on direction set by the new government, she noted.
Mearns added that the survey, which is not planned as an annual exercise, is just one source of data that the GN will take into account – others include 2016 census data and the National Aboriginal People’s Survey. All of that information will help inform the Nunavut Inuit Labour Force Analysis, a document that is intended to help the GN reach an 85 per cent Inuit workforce, which is representative of the general population. Inuit currently make up 51 per cent of GN workers, according to the most recent statistics available.