Federal Budget’s $5.2B in skills spending could make it easier to afford retraining

Federal Budget’s $5.2B in skills spending could make it easier to afford retraining

27 March 2017

Canadian companies and workers alike were looking to the Federal government’s 2017 budget for financial help upgrading their skills to keep pace with the rapidly changing workscape.

And Federal finance minister Bill Morneau announcing about $5.2 billion in new spending planned over the next five years to help Canadians adapt.

Under the new budget, unemployed workers may be able to access government-funded training programs without giving up their EI benefits. Under the current rules, Canadians training or attending school for more than 14 hours per week aren’t eligible for EI. With this change, potential students on EI can now explore go back to school to get the necessary skills and training required to successfully re-enter the workforce without having to give up what is likely their only source of income.

Also, starting in the 2018-2019 academic year, a higher income threshold will make it easier for part-time students to qualify for federal student loans and grants. There will also be initiatives aimed at promoting careers in the STEM fields: iscience, technology, engineering and math.

“This budget supports getting Canadians trained with the skills they need to enter, or re-enter the workforce by reducing the financial burden and making it easier to afford,”

said Orbis Communication Co-Founder Devin Grady.

“These measures, along with initiatives to expand Work-Integrated-Learning experiences, could make cooperative education more accessible for many students.”

In 2016, the Ontario Government struck up the “Highly Skilled Workforce Panel” to explore what is considered a growing shortage of skilled labour in Ontario. The Panel’s report “Building the Workforce of Tomorrow” called on the government to develop and implement an integrated strategy to link the education system and with the future jobs needs of the province’s economy. As a result, the Ontario government announced it is considering introducing mandatory experiential learning experiences for all students at both the primary and post-secondary levels.

Helping people continue to adapt their skills in order to be qualified for whatever jobs exist in the future is critical. Jobs are rapidly disappearing, being eliminated by today’s technology. With 40% of today’s jobs expected to disappear in the next decade, a lot of current well-compensated professionals are about to join the likes of lamplighters and in terms of hireability.

At the same time, new technologies are creating jobs for which there are not enough skilled workers. That has Canadian tech firms facing a growth-stunting shortage of workers.

According to the “Digital Talent: Road to 2020 and Beyond” report commissioned by the Information and Communication Technology Council, by 2020, strong demand for highly trained and skilled workers will culminate in more than 220,000 unfilled positions. And this figure doesn’t include jobs that don’t yet exist but are quickly emerging in response to advances in areas such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

In addition, the budget also committed nearly $3 billion to support innovation, spur economic growth and create well-paying jobs in specific areas, including advanced manufacturing, clean technology, agriculture, gital industries, clean resources and the health and biotech sectors.

An increased focus on co-ops programs that graduate highly skilled students able to step work-ready into relevant positions in industries expected to prosper could help reduce the skills shortage and help propel growth.

The announcement of today’s Federal Budget with spending dedicated to making it easier to afford post-secondary education through changes to EI and loan and grant programs is a step in the right direction.




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