Advanced Education and Skills Minister Kevin O’Brien said he’s hoping as soon as next month he’ll be offering grants to employers in the province who want to give their employees additional skills training.
Scott Armstrong, the federal parliamentary secretary for Employment and Social Development, was in town to sign a series of labour agreements, which commit millions of dollars in Newfoundland and Labrador as part of a suite of labour market development programs.
The centrepiece is the federal Canada Jobs Grant, where two-thirds of the funding for training will come from the government, as long as an employer kicks in one-third — up to a maximum of $15,000 per worker.
“Employers need to be at the table when decisions are made about where to spend training dollars,” Armstrong said. “They know better than big government bureaucracy who needs what kind of training.”
The program got a warm review from Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council executive director Richard Alexander, who said the first big hurdle will be familiarizing employers so they can get the money.
Alexander said that for businesses, training employees benefits everyone.
“We look at training as an investment,” Alexander said. “I think the research shows that if you do invest in an employee’s training, that enhances their connection to that workplace and to that employer.”
Liberal MHA Lisa Dempster was at the announcement Monday. Before getting into politics, Dempster was a career and employment counsellor. Dempster said she has questions for the minister about how the program will work — and she’s skeptical that they can get it up and running by early August like O’Brien said — but on the whole, she was upbeat.
“This is wonderful, we’re moving in the right direction, we need this,” Dempster said. “(But) I have a lot of questions around the detail of this.”
O’Brien said that the labour market money will be a part of how the government tries to maximize jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
“Newfoundland and Labrador is a far more prosperous province than it was a decade ago, and that progress is a testament to the power of co-operation,” he said. “Through successful partnerships we will continue down this path and help ensure that our province’s economy is just as prosperous for future generations.”