OTTAWA, June 3, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, highlighted government initiatives to address the labour market demand for skilled trade workers today at the Skilled Trades Summit, hosted by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum.
Minister Kenney highlighted how Government of Canada programs—such as apprenticeship grants and the Canada Apprentice Loan—will help to connect Canadians with jobs in the skilled trades. He emphasized that the federal government is seeking more employer involvement in all of its training programs. The federal government recently reached agreements in principle with the provinces and territories on the Canada Job Grant, has recently secured more employer involvement in the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities and is seeking more employer involvement in the renewed Labour Market Development Agreements.
Minister Kenney also outlined his concern for the many challenges apprentices face, which need to be fixed, including low completion rates, lack of employer participation, inconsistencies among provincial and territorial apprenticeship systems and high apprentice-to-journeymen ratios. Minister Kenney spoke about the important role apprenticeship training plays in Canada's post-secondary education system and as a key provider of the vital skills and knowledge necessary to power and grow the Canadian economy.
Lastly, Minister Kenney announced that the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum would receive $453,000 to study labour mobility challenges and issues facing both domestic and foreign-trained apprentices. The project will examine the differences among provincial regulations and training requirements, as well as the obstacles faced by apprentice newcomers with limited experience in the trades.
- Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes several measures to ensure training reflects the needs of the labour market and Canadians have the skills to take advantage of the jobs and opportunities available to them. One such measure is the Canada Apprentice Loan, which could provide up to $4,000 in interest-free loans per period of technical training for apprentices in a Red Seal trade.
- According to the Canadian Apprentice Forum, only 19 percent of skilled trade employers hire and train apprentices. Employers need to be more involved. This is one of the reasons the Government of Canada created the Canada Job Grant, so employers would play a more active role in training.
- The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum's 2013 youth perception survey indicated that almost 40 percent of youth had considered a career in the trades within the last year; however, young people continue to perceive university as first choice. Governments and employers need to do more to encourage youth to pursue careers in the skilled trades.
"Our government's top priorities are creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Our government is committed to addressing the paradox of too many Canadians without jobs in an economy of too many jobs without Canadians. We are taking action to address skills shortages by providing even more support for apprentices. This includes the introduction of the Canada Apprentice Loan, which will help more apprentices complete their training and encourage more Canadians to consider a career in the skilled trades."
- The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development
"Minister Kenney recognizes apprenticeship as an important way to develop homegrown solutions to skills shortages. Those who promote and support young people learning the technical and mechanical skills so needed in today's workplaces can appreciate a national vision that includes apprenticeship as a highly valued post-secondary pathway."
- Sarah Watts-Rynard, Executive Director, Canadian Apprenticeship Forum
The Government of Canada has several programs in place to help registered apprentices with the cost of their training and encourage more Canadians to consider a career in the skilled trades.
The Canada Apprentice Loan will offer interest-free loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training and will defer interest charges and loan repayment until the recipients complete or cancel their study program. It is estimated that at least 26,000 apprentices per year will apply for over $100 million in loans.
We are also introducing the new Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project, a research initiative that will explore ways to allow apprentices to continue working while fulfilling the technical training requirements of their programs. This will eventually help apprentices continue working and earning while fulfilling the technical training requirements of their study program. This project could potentially support up to 12 multi-year projects through reallocations of $13 million over four years starting in 2014-2015.
The Government will ensure increased awareness of existing financial supports available through Employment Insurance (EI) so apprentices can start to receive benefits more quickly while on technical training. Through EI's Supplemental Unemployment Benefit plan, employers can also invest more in apprenticeship training by choosing to top up an apprentice's benefits by up to 95 percent of his or her normal wage.
The Government of Canada provided $4.3 million and the governments of the Atlantic provinces provided over $3.5 million to harmonize training, certification and standards, leading to increased availability of training, higher apprenticeship completion rates and more labour mobility for apprentices across Atlantic Canada.
The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant and Apprenticeship Completion Grant are taxable cash grants that encourage Canadians to pursue and complete apprenticeship training in designated Red Seal trades. As a result of these grants, apprentices could be eligible to receive up to $4,000, which can be used to pay for tuition, tools or other expenses.
The Government of Canada also offers a tax credit to employers to encourage them to hire apprentices and a tax deduction for apprentices and tradespeople to help cover the cost of new tools.
Through Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government of Canada introduced measures to support apprentices and the skilled trades. These include encouraging the use of apprentices in federal construction and maintenance contracts and infrastructure projects, and federal funding commitments under the Investment in Affordable Housing, and working with the provinces and territories to harmonize apprenticeship training and certification and examining the use of practical tests as a method of assessment in certain skilled trades.
The Government of Canada is also working to implement the Canada Job Grant, which will provide funding for skills training for unemployed and underemployed Canadians to help them become qualified to fill skills shortages and succeed in the job market.
- Budget, Tax & Economy
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- Government of Canada
- Jason Kenney
- Skilled Trades