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Apprentices get help with training and certification thanks to new Government of Canada program

By Corinne Lynds   

Skills Development skills skills training training

GATINEAU, QC – Giving every Canadian a real and fair chance at success means helping them get the skills and training they need to get good jobs, earn a good living, and look after their families. Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced that the Government of Canada is rolling out a plan to support the next generation of apprentices and tradespeople – particularly women and Indigenous people – get the skills they need to succeed in a changing economy.

Minister Hajdu made the announcement of $85 million to support training in the skilled trades while speaking at a conference hosted by Canada’s Building Trades Union in Gatineau, Que.

“We’re helping apprentices and tradespeople get the skills they need to succeed, and breaking down barriers for women and Indigenous people in pursuing a great career in a skilled trade. This new program is just one part of our plan to help Canadians in the middle class, and those working so hard to join it, get good, well-paying jobs,” said Hajdu.

The Government of Canada will launch the program through a call for proposals beginning on July 24th. Apprentices and tradespeople will benefit from this new program that supports union-based apprenticeship training, innovation and enhanced partnerships. These investments will create a more skilled, mobile and certified trades workforce who have access to good quality jobs, which will in turn strengthen Canada’s middle class.


The Government of Canada worked with unions, stakeholders, as well as provinces and territories to design the program. It will include two streams of funding. Under the first stream, unions will receive financial support to purchase up-to-date training equipment and materials to help unions keep up with constant technological change and meet industry standards. The second stream will fund innovative approaches to break down barriers that deter women and Indigenous people from starting a career in the skilled trades.

As this government rolls out its historic investments in infrastructure across the country, demand for skilled tradespeople will only increase.

The Government’s Union Training and Innovation Program will also improve apprenticeship completion rates in Canada. Today, only about 50% of apprentices complete their training and become certified journeypersons. Women and Indigenous people face particular challenges in completing their training and finding work.

“We are pleased with the launch of this program. It will support union-based apprenticeship training in Canada and serve to support the development of a future-focused construction workforce, helping meet the needs of our members,” said Robert Blakely, Chief Operating Officer, Canada’s Building Trades Union.


Quick Facts

  • Announced in Budget 2016, the Union Training and Innovation Program will be launched in 2017-18 with initial funding of $10 million and $25 million annually.
  • A call for proposals for the program will begin on July 24th.
  • There will be two streams of funding:
    • financial support for unions to purchase up-to-date training equipment and materials to help unions keep up with constant technological change and meet industry standards
    • funding for innovative approaches to break down barriers facing women and Indigenous people who want to enter the skilled trades


The Union Training and Innovation Program, which was announced in Budget 2016, will target the Red Seal trades and involve broad-based partnerships with a number of stakeholders. It is expected that the Program will:

  • help to improve the quality of training through investment in equipment;
  • incorporate greater union involvement in apprenticeship training; and,
  • support innovative approaches and partnerships with other stakeholders, including employers.

The Program is open to all unions, including those that do not provide training recognized by provinces and territories as in‑class technical apprenticeship training, and those that do not operate training facilities.

The skilled trades are a growing and a vital part of our economy, and promoting careers in these areas is critical to our future. Despite an increase in apprenticeship enrolment, the trades are still perceived as being a second choice over a university education. A 2012 survey indicated that even though two thirds of 15 year old students believe the skilled trades pay well, less than 10% reported that they definitely planned to pursue a career in the skilled trades. Those who expressed interest were also more likely to have lower scores in math, reading and problem-solving, which are barriers to successfully completing an apprenticeship program.

The Program aims to help groups that face additional barriers to participation and success in the trades, such as women and Indigenous people. Women’s representation in non-traditional Red Seal trades was at 4% in 2014. Challenges that women face to enter the trades include attitudinal barriers, lack of mentors, difficulty finding an employer, discrimination and family obligations.  Indigenous people also face similar barriers, in addition to others such as insufficient financial supports, cultural differences and negative stereotypes.



SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada


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