PORT HARDY– A roundtable meeting was held at North Island College this week to discuss the educational needs of the North Island.
Vincent Portal, who came up from Victoria on behalf of the Ministry of Advanced Education, heard the hopes and concerns of local representatives.
Some of those present included Port Hardy’s Mayor Bev Parnham, Port McNeill’s Deputy Mayor Shirley Ackland and School District 85’s Superintendent Scott Benwell as well as representatives from the ‘Namgis and Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations.
Randy Bell of the ‘Namgis opened the meeting after being invited to express the importance of National Aboriginal Day.
He explained that the day celebrates “who we are as a people and what we have to offer.”
Following his introduction, those at the table introduced themselves and their role to Portal and had a chance to explain the challenges facing educators in the North Island.
A particular recurrent theme was the difficulty in meeting the needs of people all the way through to the workforce. Put another way, one of the biggest challenges facing rural communities is providing the right education and training in a local institution so that an individual can then move into employment in a local industry.
The recent nursing course offered at NIC was pointed out as a good example of a success in this area, where students were able to move directly from school to training to employment.
The table recognized the need to look forward to the labour market to identify expected gaps in the workforce and prepare to fill those gaps by offering timely and industry-relevant training.
Portal identified his role as a liaison between the Ministry and the local educators and expressed a desire to work with local representatives to find viable, locally-relevant solutions to issues on the North Island.