Becoming a CPA opens a world of opportunity and the chance for a very rewarding and successful career. Sadly, there are reasons that someone may not be able to pursue a CPA career, even if it is something they aspire to.
This is particularly true for Indigenous Albertans. Studies on Aboriginal employment highlight the barriers that may prevent Indigenous Canadian’s from entering their chosen career. Sadly, many of these barriers identified have persisted for many years. So, what are some of the most common barriers? A blog post on the website for Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. lists 8 Basic Barriers to Aboriginal Employment.
- Literacy and education: high school and basic literacy skills are requirements for nearly all jobs, and crucial for a CPA. The high school graduation rate for Aboriginal youth in Canada is 24% of 15 to 24-year-olds, compared with 84% of the non-Indigenous population.
- Cultural differences: employers and co-workers may not understand or respect the unique cultural differences of Aboriginal people which can create a worksite atmosphere of disrespect, resentment or distrust.
- Racism/discrimination/stereotypes: this is one of the fundamental barriers to Aboriginal people getting a job and remaining in the job, and it is directly related to the attitudes passed down since European settlers arrived in North America. There are a number of myths and misconceptions about Aboriginal people and perceived special treatment that some non-Aboriginal people still believe are truths.
- Self-esteem: poverty, broken families, racism, stereotypes, discrimination, few role models all contribute to low self-esteem. It’s hard to present well in a job interview when one is struggling with low self-esteem.
- Poverty and poor housing: fifty percent of First Nations children, living on-reserve, start each day in an overcrowded, inadequate home that likely is in need of repairs, has asbestos, mould, and may not have drinking water. Unhealthy living conditions affect a person’s mental and physical well-being.
- Lack of driver’s license: a real stumbling block in remote communities; just getting to the nearest office to write the initial test can be challenging; taking driver’s training is similarly a challenge as there may not be easily accessed training providers or, for that matter, a vehicle on which to learn.
- Transportation: few remote communities are serviced by public transit; vehicle insurance is expensive and out of reach for many in pre-employment situations; again, owning a vehicle or having access to a vehicle is frequently not a reality.
- Child care: safe, affordable child care is a challenge for mainstream Canadians – it is even more of a challenge for parents in Aboriginal communities.
Many of these barriers are prevalent right here in Alberta, which is why the CPA Alberta Education Foundation has started the No Limits initiative. The No Limits initiative will support Aboriginal Albertans pursuing careers in accounting. All CPAs are invited to step up and donate today. Together, we can turn dreams into attainable realities. Watch this video to learn more about No Limits and how your generosity can change someone’s life:
Improving Accessibility to the CPA Profession for Indigenous Albertans
With the help of generous CPAs and others, the Foundation aims to raise a total of $150,000 over the next two years to support Indigenous Albertans. Funds raised will be directed to the following three projects:
- Offering scholarships and awards to Indigenous Albertans enrolled in recognized business degree programs at Alberta post-secondary institutions;
- Partnering with a provincial association that supports Indigenous Albertans seeking educational or employment opportunities in accounting or related business fields; and
- Connecting with Indigenous centres at Alberta post-secondary institutions to help deliver services for Indigenous students in business and accounting programs.
Matching Your Donations: The Alex Tutschek Challenge
Former Chair of the CPA Education Foundation and longtime donor, Alex Tutschek FCPA, FCA, is helping kick start the fundraising initiative. Alex has generously pledged to match all donations from CPAs (up to $10,000) from September 20 to December 31 of 2016.
“Through the Foundation, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some exceptional aspiring CPAs in the Aboriginal community. When you donate to No Limits, you’re not just positively impacting a student; you’re making a difference in his or her family, community, and life. This is a great way for CPAs to get involved and lead by example. Grab your cheque book and join the challenge.”
To learn more about the No Limits initiative or the Alex Tutschek Challenge, visit the CPA Alberta website at http://www.cpaalberta.ca/No-Limits.