The effectiveness of neo-liberal labour market policy as a response to the poverty and social exclusion of Aboriginal second-chance learners
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This dissertation examines the political economy of labour market policy in Canada and its effectiveness in addressing the social and economic exclusion of Aboriginal people. For many Aboriginal people, the colonial experience has left a legacy of destruction that all too often makes the journey through life extremely complicated. Aboriginal people generally have lower education levels than non-Aboriginal people and they earn lower incomes. The Aboriginal population is growing at a faster rate than the non-Aboriginal population and is on average much younger. In provinces like Manitoba where Aboriginal people make up 15 percent of the overall population, they are an important source of labour. Yet the statistics suggest that there is much to be done to bring Aboriginal people to a state of social and economic inclusion. Low high-school completion rates imply that the primary school system is failing Aboriginal children, leaving many unprepared to enter post secondary education and the labour market. Labour market policies can help address poverty and exclusion. While they can broadly include a set of policies affecting both the supply and demand for labour, this research shows that in a neo-liberal political economy, they have come to be much more limited in scope, focusing almost solely on supply-side solutions. For Aboriginal adults, this has meant support for short-term training programs aimed at preparing them for jobs determined by the market. This creates challenges for individuals who have a host of factors standing in their way. An examination of Manitoba based initiatives shows the implications of the policy environment for Aboriginal second-chance learners. It also shows how some programs have adapted to the neo-liberal environment to better serve their students and leads to some concluding thoughts on what might be done to further improve outcomes for Aboriginal second-chance learners.