The Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) program is designed to assist off-reserve Indigenous Peoples to prepare for and determine career paths.
The Native Council of PEI (NCPEI) administers the program as a sub-agreement with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
“Clients are offered educational supports, work placements, and much more,” says Nancy MacLean, Employment & Training Coordinator with NCPEI. She has a current caseload of more than 50 clients, Island-wide.
Those eligible to apply include Indigenous youth, women, men, single parents, mature workers, persons with disabilities, and those experiencing career change or transition.
- One-on-one discussion of career plans
- Guidance with educational goals
- Labour market information to help make solid career decisions
- Financial support while attending education/training
- A 14-week paid work placement
“Higher education provides the skill sets and the confidence to seek employment opportunities,” says Nancy. “Many clients who took the program have gone on to full-time employment in their chosen field. The ISET program provides the necessary tools to achieve career aspirations.”
Sasha Burkitt of Charlottetown is one of the many success stories of the ISET program. The mother of three was at a crossroads in her life, unsure of which direction to take, and lacked confidence. She had been out of school for years and previous employment had been in low-paying entry-level positions.
In 2018, she completed a 14-week Level Entry Cooking program through the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island (TIAPEI) and discovered a passion for the culinary world.
“I secured employment managing a kitchen at a resort, but lacked the skill sets for the position,” says Sasha. “I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but I knew I couldn’t do that job and I didn’t want to be unemployed.”
Sasha contacted the chef she had worked with at the TIAPEI cooking program to ask for advice. He suggested she enroll in the two-year Culinary Arts program at the Holland College Culinary Institute of Canada, and offered to provide a reference. She applied and was accepted in September 2019, but lacked a plan to pay for tuition.
Sasha learned about the NCPEI ISET program through the cooperative partnership with the MCPEI Employment and Training Coordinator, Cindy Midgley, and then contacted Nancy.
“Sasha has the passion and the desire to work in the culinary sector,” says Nancy. “Support from the ISET program is key to accomplishing her goals.”
“The ISET program changed my life,” says Sasha. “The financial assistance opened the door, and the emotional support from Nancy is what’s making it possible for me to continue and to achieve my career goal. I wanted a career I was happy with, and this would not have been possible without the support from the NCPEI.”
Sasha balances family life and a student workload with the assistance of her husband and Nancy at NCPEI. She maintains a 90 percent average and is optimistic about a promising career in the food sector.
The ISET program is funded through partnership with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Employment and Social Development Canada.