The Situation Today
Inuit make up about 85 percent of the population of Nunavut, but they do not make up 85 percent of employees in either the public or private sectors. In the public sector, Inuit make up about 50 percent of employees, and in the private sector about 70 percent. The higher private sector representation may reflect the greater number of lower-skilled jobs.
Most Inuit who have the foundational skills required for employment are already working.
Nunavut faces a mismatch between the skills of the workforce and the skills in demand by employers. There are many people without jobs and many jobs without people. Most Inuit who have the skills and qualifications needed for public and private sector work are already working. Most Inuit who are unemployed or disengaged from the workforce do not yet have the skills and knowledge that are essential for the available jobs and for paraprofessional and post-secondary training programs.
About two thirds of the working-age Inuit population do not have a high school diploma. The total high school graduation rate in 2014 was about 30%, of whom about 92.7 percent were Inuit and 7.3 percent were non-Inuit.
Most Inuit employees are in lower-skilled jobs.
Inuit representation tends to be significantly higher in entry-level positions and significantly lower in management and professional positions. For example, according to Government of Nunavut’s Public Service Annual Report for 2015-16, Inuit made up 85 percent of the administrative support and 63 percent of paraprofessional positions, but only 27 percent of professional, 24 percent of middle management, and 20 percent of senior management. There is a similar trend in the private sector where, according to the 2011 National Household Survey, Inuit filled about 86 percent of lower-skilled jobs.
There is much room for growth in Inuit employment, especially in positions that require more advanced training, experience, skills and knowledge. Advancing Inuit into leadership positions is also essential for strengthening Inuit self-determination.
The working-age population will grow in the next two decades, and it will include more people needing remedial skills development opportunities.
As the growing youth population ages, Nunavut’s workforce will increase. But, until K-12 learning outcomes are strengthened, the working-age population can be expected to include more people who have not completed high school, and who may not have the foundational skills needed for government employment and for paraprofessional and post-secondary programs.