The federal and Ontario provincial governments signed an agreement today that will see the federal government spend $1.2 billion dollars over the next six years on skills training in Ontario.
The funds will assist individuals, who are not eligible for training under Employment Insurance (EI) programs, to gain literacy and job skills necessary to compete in the labour market. The funds will specifically target groups with lower education levels, especially individuals without high school diplomas.
The agreement signed today allows for the funds to begin flowing to the provincial government on April 1, 2008.
“Through this agreement, more people in Ontario will be able to enjoy the benefits of the province’s prosperous economy, and employers will gain the skilled labour they need,” said Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development.
Most of the funding will be directed to Ontario’s colleges to implement training programs. The funding means that cost-barriers will not prevent people from accessing the training. “Colleges are uniquely positioned to deliver these programs,” said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. “At a time when Ontario is facing a serious shortage of skilled workers while youth unemployment is higher than in the rest of Canada, access to quality education and training.”
Franklin says that colleges will be working with community agencies and local school boards to deliver community based programs. She says the main goal is to reach people who face barriers upgrading their skills to assist them to move up in the workforce.
The programs offered will range from English as a second language classes to skilled trades training to address Ontario’s skilled labour shortage.