A new federal Apprenticeship Service is being launched to help small and medium-sized employers (SMEs) overcome barriers in order to hire and provide training opportunities for first-year apprentices.
Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, made the announcement at the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s (CAF) 2022 National Apprenticeship Conference May 30 in Halifax.
“This is a fund that will support small and medium businesses to offer apprenticeships,” said Qualtrough. “Today I’m excited to announce that we are investing close to $247 million in 13 projects across Canada to help create over 25,000 new apprenticeships.”
CAF received $45 million of that funding to administer grants to employers who hire new first-year apprentices in 39 Red Seal trades and help the apprentices get the hands-on work experience they need.
SMEs don’t always have the resources and funding to take on apprentices.
Organizations funded under the Apprenticeship Service will distribute financial incentives to SMEs who hire apprentices and provide additional supports, such as help navigating the apprenticeship system, onboarding apprentices and creating welcoming workplaces, indicates a release.
Eligible for the funding are SMEs with 499 or fewer paid employees. SMEs will receive $5,000 for each new, first-year apprentice hired, for a maximum of two eligible apprentices per year and can use the incentive to pay for upfront costs such as salaries and training.
The best way to grow the workforce is to make it more inclusive, Qualtrough noted.
“Our government considered this with the Apprentice Service,” she said. “To boost diversity in the Red Seal trades, the incentive will be doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire from equity-deserving groups, specifically women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, members of the LGBTQ2+ communities, newcomers and visible minorities including Black and other racialized communities.
“I’m grateful to partners like the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum who are striving to be more inclusive,” said Qualtrough, adding this week marks Accessibility Week. “With their funding, they’re going to provide mentorship and training to equity-deserving groups so they can build careers in the skilled trades. This isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.”
Labour shortages are the biggest threat to Canada reaching its full economic potential, Qualtrough explained. About 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire in Canada by 2028.
“We have to look to the future, understand where the gaps will be and make strategic investments and decisions to build the strong, skilled workforce that Canada needs,” she said.
“That’s what this conference is about. How can our economic recovery foster both resilience and readiness? The skilled trades are at the centre of this question. Few industries are as essential, not only to our economy but to our everyday life.
“We’re going to engineer and build more energy efficient systems and communities. We’re going to build millions more homes to house our growing population. That all comes down to skilled trade workers.”
The government recently launched a nationwide advertising campaign on all forms of media to promote the skilled trades as a strong first-choice career path for youth and young adults, said Qualtrough, adding CAF executive director France Daviault helped by providing advice and expertise on the campaign.
But it’s not enough to raise awareness.
“We need to create opportunities. We need to actually make it easier for Canadians to enter the skilled trades and launch a career.”
CAF was pleased with the investment.
“The apprenticeship community understands the importance of encouraging and supporting employers to hire new apprentices,” said Daviault in a statement. “Through this investment, we will work with our partners at BuildForce Canada, SkillPlan, ApprenticeSearch.com, Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board and the Canadian Construction Association to provide a range of supports, financial and otherwise, to employers who take on the important role of training tomorrow’s skilled trades workforce.”
Organizations receiving funding under the 2021 Apprenticeship Service call for proposals include:
- Electricity Human Resources Canada – $8,211,000
- Canadian Apprenticeship Forum – $45,633,430
- UBCJA – Canadian District United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners – $36,864,238
- Canadian Institute of Steel Construction – $27,124,645
- Christian Labour Association of Canada – $14,737,554
- Building and Construction Trades Department – $48,877,900
- Lethbridge Youth Foundation – $817,113
- Rupertsland Institute – $5,046,157
- Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment Inc. – $1,678,690
- First Peoples Development Inc. – $48,291,605
- Canadian Skills Training and Employment Coalition – $1,978,996
- Family Services of Peel – $4,519,321
- Okanagan College – $ 3,031,449
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