WPRC spent the early months of 2015 developing an updated five-year Framework for Action. The new Framework includes ten poverty reduction related aspirations for Winnipeg. As part of this work, WPRC members identified ‘achieving independence through income’ as a priority aspiration to focus on going forward. Subsequent consultations with a broad range of community stakeholders in the fall of 2015 and early 2016 affirmed WPRC’s thinking that a focus on ‘independence through income’ could, over time, have a significant impact on reducing poverty in our community.
The consultations further emphasized that, based on related research and demographic projections for our community, youth employment – with an Indigenous lens – is an area of critical importance in terms of meaningful poverty reduction in our city. The WPRC, whose membership includes leaders from education, training and employment (business), was seen as well positioned to support a collective impact approach that would assist youth in moving out of poverty by increasing opportunities for good jobs – with benefits and opportunities for advancement.
Recognizing that there is significant work already being done in Winnipeg in the area of Indigenous youth training and employment, WPRC set out to learn what was working well, and to identify potential gaps and opportunities.The outcome of this 2016 work has been a recognition of WPRC’s key role in breaking down silos and bringing together sectors – in this case educators, trainers, Indigenous leaders, business people and those with lived experience – that may not have had the opportunity to sit together and collectively look at issues, potential solutions and how to replicate and build on successes.
In June of 2016 WPRC partnered with The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to convene a workshop, with representatives from small business, focused on Indigenous youth employment. Employers in attendance reinforced the importance of this issue to the long term well-being of our community and embraced the opportunity to share challenges and ideas. Their overall message to WPRC and the Chamber was that they are anxious to be part of the solution.
The overall outcome of the June workshop was:
– the recognition of a gap between trainers and employers, and the potential for more deliberate efforts to bridge that gap; and
– employer commitment to exploring opportunities for partnerships with trainers and educators, Indigenous leaders and youth.
The workshop reinforced a shared recognition of the need to work collectively at creating enhanced opportunities for meaningful and sustainable employment for Indigenous youth.
Thus, WPRC’s role in the months ahead is to:
– research and share data regarding our community’s youth employment landscape;
– reach out to potential partners to build awareness of the issues faced by Indigenous youth seeking meaningful employment;
– convene partners to identify innovative and collaborative strategies to assist Indigenous youth in moving out of poverty, through the attainment of good jobs.
WPRC is unique in Winnipeg in that its strategy for poverty reduction is based on a multi-sectoral, collective impact approach. It is a table that provides for the regular coming together of leaders from business, government and the community.