Aramark Remote Workplace Services Offers Opportunities for Aboriginal People

Sep 10, 2014 10:00 AM ET
Campaign: Employee Advocacy

diversity & inclusion - in practice

Employers in Canada face a unique challenge compared to companies in many parts of the world: unemployment in some areas can be as low as four percent, and companies compete to find good workers. For Aramark Remote Workplace Services in Canada, finding and keeping good employees who are also willing to work away from home for weeks at a time creates additional challenges. 

To address these challenges, Aramark created the pre|PARE program to partner with Canada’s aboriginal communities of indigenous people, who have long faced educational and learning gaps.  Many young Aboriginal people do not complete high school, but even in cases where higher education is pursued, Aboriginal people earn 10 to 50 percent less than other Canadians. 

Aramark’s pre|PARE program offers paid training on remote sites to provide Aboriginal participants with life skills and various career options that are beneficial to them and to employers like Aramark. The program includes multiple elements, including certifications for safety, and on-the-job training with a personal mentor.

What sets the program apart, though, is its unique design based on the needs of the Aboriginal community. For example, the program incorporates a “buddy system” that unites several people from a single Aboriginal community together at the worksite and provides a graduated introduction to remote work starting with just one week away from home and later working up to three. 

“For many, this is their first time working away from home, so the program’s sensitivity helps them adjust,” said Jonathan Stringer,  Aramark Director of Aboriginal and Community Relations, “Some of the program participants may have never worked off their reservation.” 

The program, now entering its third year, has seen many successes.  For example, Kyle Steinhauer, a pre|PARE graduate from the Whitefish Lake First Nation, has taken on a permanent job with Aramark and will continue pursuing his passion for baking on his work site overseen by chefs with the highly prestigious Canadian Red Seal certification

Overall the program aspires to increase the percentage of Aboriginal employees to 17% by 2016 and to expand to every new site as Aramark grows its business. Stringer measures success not only by completion and employment statistics, but also by the long-term impact on the participants.

“I measure the impact by asking whether the individual leaves the program better suited for life and a career than when they came in…Whether they continue with Aramark or move on to other opportunities, the pre|PARE program has made a difference,” he said. 

Aramark Remote Workplace Services earned the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Silver level from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business in 2013 and the title of Best Workplace for Aboriginal Employees from Alberta’s Best Workplaces in 2014.