GATINEAU, QC, May 6, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, spoke at the Canadian Building Trades Conference about the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to support apprenticeships and the skilled trades.
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. He also addressed his concern for the many challenges apprentices face, including low completion rates, lack of employer participation, inconsistencies between provincial and territorial apprenticeship systems and high apprentice to journeyperson ratios, particularly in some provinces.
Minister Kenney outlined a number of Government of Canada initiatives of interest to the construction sector including grants for apprentices, the Canada Job Grant and the introduction of the Canada Apprentice Loan, as outlined in Economic Action Plan (EAP) 2014.
Minister Kenney also announced that the Government of Canada is now mandating that those bidding on government construction and maintenance contracts sign a voluntary certification expressing their commitment to hire and train apprentices. Contractors and subcontractors will also be required to inform the Government of Canada about the number of apprentices they plan to use on the contract, as well as their trades. This information will help inform future additional changes to encourage the use of apprentices. This initiative was a commitment made in EAP 2013 to further promote apprenticeships in Canada.
He highlighted additional EAP 2014 measures including increasing awareness of the existing financial supports available to apprentices while they are on technical training through the Employment Insurance program and a pilot project that will explore ways to allow apprentices to continue working while fulfilling the technical training requirements of their programs.
In addition, Minister Kenney announced over $1.2 million to Frontier College to integrate literacy and essential skills training in apprenticeship programs. This aims to help apprentices complete their training and trade certification.
- In the construction sector alone, it is expected that Canadian companies will need approximately 300,000 new workers over the next 10 years.
- The Canada Job Grant will help ensure that Canada has the skilled workforce it needs to help bridge the gap between the skills Canadians have and the skills employers are looking for.
- EAP 2014's Canada Apprentice Loan will provide apprentices in Red Seal trades with access to interest-free loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training to encourage careers in the skilled trades. It is estimated that at least 26,000 apprentices a year will apply for these loans.
"Our government's top priorities are creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. We are taking action to address skills shortages by providing even more support for apprentices. Through our Economic Action Plan and support for training programs, along with grants and tax credits, we are encouraging apprenticeships and careers in the skilled trades, including the introduction of the Canada Apprentice Loan."
- The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development
"There is no national apprenticeship system in Canada. There are 13 different systems, one for each province and territory, which can create barriers for apprentices to move easily during their training to where the jobs are. We support the work the Government of Canada is doing with the provinces and territories to facilitate the mobility of apprentices. Apprenticeship training should be harmonized across the country, with common sequencing so that more apprentices are able to apply their skills anywhere they are needed across Canada."
- Robert Blakely, Director of Canadian Affairs, Building & Construction Trades Department
Economic Action Plan 2014 - Support for apprentices
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.
The Government of Canada is also introducing the new Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project to explore ways to 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.
Apprentice Procurement Initiative
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, federal funding commitments under the Investment in Affordable Housing initiative, 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.
As a first step, contractors bidding on federal projects will be expected to attest that they are providing opportunities to apprentices. This will also include gathering information to further understand the landscape. The information will later determine an ongoing approach to support the use of apprentices in federal project that helps Canadian workers, but is also fair to business.
Canada Job Grant
The Canada Job Grant will help Canadians get the training they need for available jobs and put skills training decisions in the hands of employers. It will provide up to $15,000 per person for training costs, such as tuition and training materials, which includes up to $10,000 in federal contributions.
The provinces and territories will have full flexibility on the source of funds for the Canada Job Grant. They may be sourced from provincial/territorial allocations under the Canada Job Fund, the Labour Market Development Agreements or provincial/territorial sources.
The Canada Job Grant will be for short-duration training provided by an eligible third-party trainer, such as community colleges, career colleges, trade union centres and private trainers. Training can be provided in a classroom, on site at a workplace or online.
All private and not-for-profit businesses with a plan to train Canadians for a new or better job will be eligible to apply for a Canada Job Grant, once implemented.
The Canada Job Grant will be flexible enough to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, in all industries and regions. Small businesses will benefit from flexible arrangements, such as the potential to count wages as part of the employer contribution. This will help ensure that all businesses, regardless of size, can fully participate in the Canada Job Grant.
The Canada Job Grant will ensure that employers participate meaningfully as partners in the skills training system, sharing in the associated costs. This will ensure that training is better aligned with job opportunities, particularly in sectors facing skills mismatches and labour shortages.
The Canada Job Grant is strongly supported by employers and other stakeholders including:
- The Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO;
- National Association of Career Colleges;
- Canadian Federation of Independent Business;
- Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters;
- Canadian Construction Association;
- Information Technology Association of Canada;
- Canadian Welding Bureau;
- Engineers Canada;
- Progressive Contractors Association;
- Christian Labour Association of Canada;
- Canadian Home Builders' Association;
- Canadian Shipowners Association;
- Canadian Electricity Association;
- Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating;
- Merit Canada;
- Polytechnics Canada;
- Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada;
- Chemistry Industry Association of Canada; and
- Aerospace Industry Association of Canada.
SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information:
Office of Minister Kenney