OTTAWA, Feb. 13, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, highlighted the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to support apprenticeships and the skilled trades today at a meeting with representatives of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) in Ottawa.
Minister Kenney emphasized the importance of supporting apprenticeships to help address the pressing demand for skilled tradesmen. He noted several steps that are being pursued, including encouraging harmonized apprenticeship requirements among the provinces and territories, supporting the use of apprentices in federal contracts and projects, and providing grants and tax credits to apprentices and the employers who hire them.
Support for apprentices was a major theme in Economic Action Plan 2014 with the creation of the Canada Apprentice Loan to provide apprentices registered in their first Red Seal trade with access to interest-free loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training. In addition, Economic Action Plan 2014 included the creation of the Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project to explore ways to allow apprentices to continue working while fulfilling the technical training requirements of their programs.
- In a study completed by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) and Skills Canada, only 32 percent of high school students said they would consider a career in the skilled trades. According to Statistics Canada, the average age for entry of an apprentice is 25. As part of Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government of Canada announced measures to create more opportunities for apprentices and to promote careers in the skilled trades.
- In the decade Canada is expected to need 319 000 workers in the construction sector, 145 000 workers in the mining sector, 130 000 workers in the petroleum sector, and 95 000 engineers.
- EAP 2014 proposes to create the Canada Apprentice Loan to provide apprentices in Red Seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest free loans each year and to increase awareness of financial supports for apprenticeship training.
- EAP 2014 also introduced plans to expand the use of innovative approaches to the delivery of apprentice technical training through the Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project.
"Our government's top priority remains creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. With apprenticeship grants, apprenticeship loans, tax credits and investments in training, our government is helping apprentices get the skills they need to fill well-paying jobs available in the Canadian economy."
- The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism
"The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum is encouraged by Minister Kenney's emphasis on labour shortages in the skilled trades. We need more employers training the next generation of tradespeople and more youth who value apprenticeship as a post-secondary pathway. National support for Canada's apprenticeship systems recognizes the importance of skilled tradespeople to our country's productivity."
- Sarah Watts-Rynard, Executive Director, Canadian Apprenticeship Forum
Economic Action Plan 2014
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 Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project will help reduce non-financial barriers to completing training and obtaining certification by using new learning tools such as in-class simulators, e-learning modules, remote learning sites and video conferencing. This will 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 per cent of his or her normal wage.
Support for apprentices
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. In turn, these actions mean more jobs and opportunities for workers in the skilled trades and a step forward in addressing the skills shortage faced in certain regions and sectors in 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 tradesmen 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, 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.
Promoting careers in the skilled trades
Also through Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government proposed to provide more information on job prospects and the benefits of working in the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and mathematics to promote education in these high-demand fields.
Canada Job Grant
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.
SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada
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