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Canadian Minister of Employment Touts New Loans, Grants to Boost Apprenticeship

Canada's Immigration Minister Kenney speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

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Speaking at the Canadian Building Trades Union (CBTU) Conference this month, Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney spoke about the Canadian government’s commitment to apprenticeships in the skilled trades.  Kenney spoke about the importance of training and the post-secondary school system.  

Despite an approach to temporary workers which has put him in hot water with the labor community, Kenney’s remarks reveal a genuine concern for the future of the skilled trades north of the border.

Kenney outlined his vision for apprenticeships, saying:

“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.”

Kenney discussed grants for apprentices, the Canada Job Grant, and the inclusion of the Canada apprentice Loan as part of the Economic Action Plan 2014.  To show the need for such initiatives he referenced the following facts:

- 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.

Canada lacks a nationalized system or set of standards for apprenticeship, so top-down interest in growing the sector is vital.  Robert Blakely, Director of Canadian Affairs for the BCTD, touched on this, saying:

“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.”

The CBTU conference was held in Gatineau, QC.  Over 500 construction industry leaders from both Canada and the United States were in attendance.  


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