Government of Canada takes action to help apprentices and promote the skilled trades
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.
He also announced that the Government of Canada is now mandating 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.