Provincial and federal governments have rolled out numerous initiatives to help defray the training costs as Western Canada construction companies faces the task of filling skilled jobs left empty as baby-boomers exit the workplace.
Provinces such as Alberta have invested deeply in programs with the Alberta at Work program allocating $600 million over three years to attract skilled individuals and provide Albertans with skills training.
Federally, Canada’s budget 2021 investing nearly $298M over three years in the Skills for Success Program, providing basic skills getting individuals ready for the workplace. In October 2022, Canada launched the $25 million The Union Training and Innovation Program to support apprenticeship training, innovation, and partnerships with Red Seal trades. See: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/union-training-innovation.html
Canada has also made available, as a joint-venture with provinces, an employer training grant where 66-80 per cent of the cost can be covered. The terms set out by each province vary. The federal government hosts a website listing all current funding opportunities – including funding for women apprentices. See: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding.html
Provincial governments have their own programs. Here’s a rundown of some of the funding opportunities available to employers and employees or new entrants.
The B.C. Employer Training Grant is a $10 million program that provides employers throughout B.C. with skills training funding for their workforce, including prospective new hires, with an emphasis on small business. Employers can apply for funding to cover up to 80% of the cost of training, up to $10,000 per employee, with a maximum annual amount per employer of $300,000. Details at https://www.workbc.ca/Employer-Resources/B-C-Employer-Training-Grant.aspx
The Apprenticeship Service program is providing $21 million in funding to support new apprentices at small or mid-sized employers in B.C.’s construction industry. Over the next two years, funding will be distributed by the BC Construction Association directly to businesses with less than 500 employees that are hiring new employees or registering current ones as first-year apprentices in 39 eligible Red Seal trades. Eligible applicants will receive $5,000 for hiring or registering any worker. An additional $5,000 is available if the worker self-reports as a woman, new Canadian, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, a person with a disability, or a visible minority. Visit bccassn.com/apprenticeship-services.
The Community Workforce Response Grant program’s goal is to provide a response to emerging and urgent labour and skills needs in B.C. communities and sectors and annually allocates up $10 million in funding. There are five streams under which applicants (ranging from unions, industry, sector and employer associations, to First Nations) can apply. The Workplace Shortages stream funding is a maximum of $300,000 per applicant, $15,000 per applicant per fiscal year and is cumulative across the CWRG. Supported activities include occupational skills training, employment support services and financial support for participants. Priority is given to training projects offering occupational certifications, especially for in-demand skills. https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-Workforce-Response-Grant.aspx
Employees and new entrants
Skills Training for Employment program targets the disadvantaged and attempts to provide support to make them work ready. The categories include youth and also the plus 55 age group. Bladerunners, which started with downtown east side youth working on the Rogers Arena construction and is now throughout B.C., is part of the program. See: https://www.workbc.ca/training-education/skills-training-for-employment.aspx
The Canada-Alberta Job Grant offers training funds but employers contribute a 1/3 of costs with government contributing 2/3 or up to $10,000 per trainee per fiscal year. If hiring an unemployed Albertan, up to 100 per cent of the training cost can be claimed up to a maximum of $15,000 with an employer cap of $300,000 on grant funding. See https://www.alberta.ca/canada-alberta-job-grant.aspx
Alberta Jobs Now is a $240 million program aimed at helping get 16,500 Albertans back to work and has gone through three intakes. The program provides grants to help employers hire and train employees into jobs in the private and non-profits sectors. Further funding is available for hiring persons with disabilities and those who have been unemployed for at least 27 consecutive weeks prior to being hired. Employers can apply for a grant to offset salary or training costs or both that is equal to 25 % of a new hire’s salary up to $25,000 and up to 37.5% of a new hire’s salary or $37,500 if the employee has a disability or has been unemployed more than 27 consecutive week. See https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-jobs-now-program.aspx
Trade Pathways Pilot is a $3.4 million multi-year partnership with the Alberta Construction Association and End Poverty Edmonton targeting unemployed and providing on-the-job apprenticeship training for those 35 years of age and under. Funding supports wage top-ups, preparatory training and personal protective equipment/tool costs for apprentices. https://www.tradepathways.ca/home
The CAREERS program, which targets high school students for apprenticeship programs, includes $4.5 million for an Employer Incentive Credit (EIC), which was added in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides employers up to $3,600 as an incentive to offset costs for providing a paid internship opportunity for youth. https://www.careersnextgen.ca/
Employees and new entrants
Driving Back to Work Grant program provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Economic Corridors is providing $30 million over three years train Albertans in commercial trucking and transportation industries See: https://www.alberta.ca/driving-back-to-work-grant-program.aspx
Women Building Futures is a non-profit organization that works with the Alberta government and attempts to remove barriers, including funding, to entry to jobs, many of which are in the construction field. https://womenbuildingfutures.ca
The Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant (CSJG) provides employers with up to $10.000 per employee with employers contributing 1/3 of the cost of training. Applications continue to be accepted for this program and more information can be found at: www.saskatchewan.ca/job-grant.
In early 2022, the province launched the Re-Skill Saskatchewan Training Subsidy (RSTS), new and temporary funding which provides businesses with financial support to train employees into economic recovery and growth. Employers can access up to $5,000 to train their employees. Applications are currently being accepted. Further information and the online application can be found at www.saskatchewan.ca/training-subsidy.
Employees and new entrants
The Training Voucher Program provides individuals with the ability to get education to get back into the workforce after going through career counseling. Tuition, fees, books, supplies, and other mandatory or direct costs of training as per the agreement with the institution are covered but not apprenticeship costs. See: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/jobs-working-and-training/job-training-and-financial-support-programs/training-voucher-program
Women Building Futures, which started in Alberta placing women into skilled trades, expanded into Saskatchewan in late 2022. The BHP Trades Readiness Program will provide women with safety certificates, hands-on skills in a variety of construction trades, along with best practices for working in construction. See: https://womenbuildingfutures.ca/programs/bhp-trades-readiness/
The Canada-Manitoba Job Grant provides funding to employers to help cover training costs for new and existing employees. Employers may receive up to $10,000 per employee to cover training costs, to a maximum funding total of $100,000 per employer. The grant program accepts applications twice a year (spring and fall).The new intake is expected to occur in the spring of 2023. .Full details available here: https://www.gov.mb.ca/jec/busdev/financial/cmjg/index.html
Small Business Minimum Wage Adjustment program provides support to small businesses to help offset the minimum wage increase initiated Oct. 1, 2022 from $11.95 to $13.50 per hour. The program runs until March 31, 2023. https://www.gov.mb.ca/jec/busdev/financial/sbwa/index.html
The Industry Expansion Program is aimed at supporting companies that are locating new operations in Manitoba or expanding existing Manitoba operations and financial grants are given to assist in new hires and training and associated expenses. https://www.gov.mb.ca/jec/busdev/financial/iep.html
The Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MCSC), the industry’s human resource council, acts as a federation of its current four industry and Indigenous advocacy associations. Funding is provided by the Manitoba government and the MCSC provides information and support on training. See https://mbcsc.com