The significant education gap between First Nations people and the general population is directly affecting the employment opportunities for aboriginal people, particularly in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, according to a report released January 21 by Dr. Eric Howe, a University of Saskatchewan economics professor.
The study Employment of First Nations People: Saskatchewan Lags Behind referenced 2006 Census data (the 2011 Census did not use long form for data collection), which found 58.6 percent of Saskatchewan's First Nations adult population did not have a high school diploma, compared to 29.9 percent of the population at large, reported CBC News.
When aboriginal people enter the job market, the education gap is grossly hindering their ability to obtain a job.
"Our employment record of First Nations people is—frankly the word is appalling," Dr. Howe told CBC News.
If Saskatchewan employed First Nations people at the same rate as the two neighboring provinces, Alberta and Manitoba, it would increase its gross domestic product by $6.7 billion, Howe estimates in the report.
"If we don't invest in our people now, our First Nations people, we are losing out not only for our people but for everybody in Saskatchewan," said Simon Bird, vice-chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.