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Colleges and institutes welcome investments in skills, training and trades

Ottawa, April 19, 2021 – Colleges and institutes across Canada are pleased to see that skills development occupies such a critical role in the government’s recovery plan, as outlined in the federal budget. They stand ready to support learners, displaced workers, industry and SMEs, as they have done since the beginning of the pandemic, while driving innovation and sustainability.

Given the last Throne Speech promised “the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers,” expectations were high across the post-secondary sector ahead of the federal budget. Promising over $5.7 billion over the next five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education, to provide additional relief from student loan debt for young graduates, and to create new training and work opportunities, this budget clearly positions education and training as a key component of Canada’s sustainable recovery.

The budget also provides much needed support for small and medium-sized enterprises who have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. This includes $960 million over three years for a new Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program that will help connect up to 90,000 Canadians with the training they need to access good jobs in sectors where employers are looking for skilled workers. In addition, a new Apprenticeship Service will receive $470 million over three years to help 55,000 first-year apprentices in construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades connect with SMEs.

The budget also recognizes the critical role colleges and institutes play across the country to drive innovation. More SMEs will be able to benefit from that expertise thanks to an investment of $46.9 million over two years to support additional research partnerships through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s College and Community Innovation Program.

“Canada’s colleges and institutes have a critical role to play in our post-COVID-19 recovery and can help restart the Canadian economy while moving it towards a better future”, noted CICan president and CEO, Denise Amyot. “Investing in training and innovation therefore makes perfect sense and will help the thousands of Canadian workers displaced by the pandemic and looking to reintegrate into the labour market.”

Colleges and institutes are also ideally positioned to support a green recovery and promote sustainability. They strive to build the greenest campuses possible, train workers with green skills, and contribute to green innovation through thousands of applied research projects. They were very glad to see new measures to build a greener economy, including funding for infrastructure. Unfortunately, no new funding has been allocated specifically for post-secondary institutions.

To address skills and labour-force challenges, Canada needs policy measures and investments that make reskilling and upskilling affordable. This is especially important as this pandemic has had an increased impact on already vulnerable populations, including women, Indigenous people and new immigrants.

Adult learners will benefit from many measures, including a permanent top-up to the full-time Canada Student Grant, and the Skills for Success program to improve their literacy and essential skills to better prepare for employment or pursue postsecondary education.

Specific investments for Indigenous students will help reduce barriers via the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the Inuit and Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategies.  Indigenous postsecondary institutions will also receive additional support to address COVID-19 challenges.

The budget includes specific measures for official-language minority communities as well, including $121.3 million to make high-quality post-secondary minority-language education available across Canada.

Colleges and institutes also welcome new measures aimed at making early learning and child care more accessible across the country. This will help many people, and in particular women, access the labour market. It also removes a common obstacle to pursuing post-secondary education or reskilling, especially among older learners who might benefit from added training to advance their career. As most workers in early learning and child care are trained at the college level, these institutions will also have an important role to play in increasing capacity across the sector and meeting demand.

About Colleges and Institutes Canada

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the voice of Canada’s publicly-supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics, and an international leader in education for employment with ongoing programs in over 25 countries. CICan’s members add over $190B to Canada’s economy each year and contribute to inclusive economic growth by working with industry and community partners to offer more than 10,000 programs to learners in urban, rural, remote, and northern communities.

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For more information:

Julien Abord-Babin
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
Email: jabord-babin@collegesinstitutes.ca
Phone: 613-746-2222 ext. 3131
Twitter: @CollegeCan