B.C. has signed on to the federal government's program to match skills training with employers' needs, after negotiations to maintain most of the existing programs to assist older and disadvantaged people.
B.C. Jobs Minister Shirley Bond signed onto the Canada Job Grant program in Ottawa Monday, as provinces and territories agreed to a program that requires employers to put up a third of training costs. Once the program takes effect, the federal share will be up to $10,000 per trainee with another $5,000 from a sponsoring employer.
Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney said the new program will address the need for thousands of skilled workers to develop liquefied natural gas plants, pipelines and other projects in B.C. There is no general labour shortage in Canada, but the $900 million a year the federal government spends on post-secondary training needs to match up better with the available jobs, he said.
"So we need to re-engineer our education system," Kenney said. "B.C. has taken the lead on this, to prepare young people for the jobs of the future, to educate them for the labour market."
The agreement means B.C. will use 40% of Ottawa's $65 million annual skills training transfer for the new program.
"We very much support the concept of employer-led and driven employment programs, and I think that's actually where we ended up with the Canada Job Grant file," Bond said.
B.C. objected to the program initially, because it would have taken federal money away from existing training programs for disadvantaged groups. Kenney said the amended deal allows 90 per cent of B.C.'s training programs to carry on.
One of those is a 2007 federal-provincial program for workers aged 55 to 64 in communities with fewer than 250,000 people that have high unemployment or closure of employers.