Alberta, feds announce skills training deal

EDMONTON – The Alberta government struck a deal with Ottawa on Friday that gives the province money and flexibility to train more people for specific jobs.

Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney says under a renewed labour market agreement, $23 million will go toward employer-driven training under the direction of the provincial government.

“We want provinces to deliver this because they’re closer to the ground,” Kenney said in a legislature news conference alongside his provincial counterpart Thomas Lukaszuk.

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“They know who the players are. They understand the local and regional job market subtleties much better than we do.

“This agreement will be good for Albertans, good for the Alberta economy (and) good for taxpayers because they will be getting better bang for the buck from the training dollars we spend.”

The $23 million is part of the current $33 million Canada Job Grant.

Under the employer-driven program, the federal government would provide up to $10,000 per person for training costs, including tuition for short-duration training at community colleges, career colleges, trade union centres, and private trainers.

Employers would be responsible for the final third for a maximum per person contribution of $15,000.

The training can be done in classrooms, at the worksite or online.

Lukaszuk said the money is crucial given the acute shortages in his province’s roaring petro-based economy.

“This province right now is attracting approximately 130,000 people every year,” said Lukaszuk.

“And yet we estimate that we will be short some 100,000 workers within the next 10 years.

“That’s a problem that we must first solve domestically before we reach out to immigration as a primary supplement of workers.”

There are about 220,000 job openings in Canada, a quarter of which are in Alberta.

The job vacancy rate in Alberta has doubled in the last five years to six per cent.