Bil­lion-dol­lar bonus for skills train­ing

New labour agree­ments be­tween Ot­tawa, New­found­land and Labrador

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - BY KENN OLIVER kenn.oliver@thetele­gram.com Twit­ter: ken­no­liver79

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced a nearly bil­lion-dol­lar in­vest­ment in the peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador on Fri­day, Aug. 3.

Over the next six years, Ot­tawa will spend $949 mil­lion through a pair of labour agree­ments that are aimed at in­creas­ing the jobs and skills train­ing avail­able to peo­ple in this prov­ince so that more cit­i­zens — es­pe­cially those un­der­rep­re­sented in the work­force such as women, im­mi­grants, Indige­nous peo­ples, and those with phys­i­cal or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties — can avail.

“It’s not a big Cana­dian so­lu­tion, it is New­found­land and Labrador spe­cific and more im­por­tant it’s com­mu­nity and re­gion­ally spe­cific. So, what jobs are in your par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity, how can we be re­spon­sive to that, how can we get you to adapt to those jobs and to the mar­ket­place,” said Sea­mus O’Re­gan, MP for St. John’s South—Mount Pearl and the prov­ince’s fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter.

“When gov­ern­ment is more nim­ble and smarter in how it goes about things, peo­ple ben­e­fit. Peo­ple can get jobs eas­ier and they will be bet­ter equipped for the jobs of the fu­ture.”

Premier Dwight Ball lauded the feds’ move, par­tic­u­larly how it isn’t a per capita agree­ment.

“When you look at trans­fer pay­ments and most agree­ments that we see be­tween the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the prov­ince, it re­ally comes down to how many peo­ple do you have liv­ing in your ju­ris­dic­tion,” the premier told re­porters.

“It goes be­yond that. It goes to the need of New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans and, as Sea­mus (O’Re­gan) said, the flex­i­bil­ity that em­ploy­ers, that em­ploy­ees need.”

The new Work­force Devel­op­ment Agree­ment (WDA) — which con­sol­i­dates the Canada Job Fund Agree­ments, the Labour Mar­ket Agree­ments for Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties and the Tar­geted Ini­tia­tive for Older Work­ers, the lat­ter of which ex­pired last March — will see $26 mil­lion in­vested over the first two years.

That money will be used to de­liver train­ing in ba­sic skills, on-the-job train­ing and work­place-based skills up­grad­ing, work place­ments for peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, em­ploy­ment coun­selling and ser­vices, and em­ployer-spon­sored train­ing.

The amended Labour Mar­ket Devel­op­ment Agree­ment (LDMA) — a six-year $1.8-bil­lion ini­tia­tive in­tro­duced in the 2017 fed­eral bud­get and send­ing $218 mil­lion to the prov­ince to ad­min­is­ter over the next two years — is tar­geted at en­sur­ing the work­force has the skills em­ploy­ers need but it will also ex­pand on the el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments for em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits and sup­port mea­sures un­der the Em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance Act, to the ben­e­fit of both em­ploy­ees and em­ploy­ers.

Where be­fore fund­ing through the LDMA only al­lowed for EI claimants to ben­e­fit from sup­port, the newly inked deal will make it avail­able to any­one — em­ployed or un­em­ployed — who’s con­tributed to EI over the past five years.

“That opens it up to a lot of part-time work­ers, it also opens it up to a lot of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who are in the work­force,” O’Re­gan ex­plained. “They’ll be able to avail of that train­ing, ei­ther from agen­cies

It’s not a big Cana­dian so­lu­tion, it is New­found­land and Labrador spe­cific and more im­por­tant it’s com­mu­nity and re­gion­ally spe­cific.

- Sea­mus O’Re­gan

who are al­ready do­ing good work on the ground or from em­ploy­ers them­selves.”

It also al­lows for em­ploy­ers, em­ployer as­so­ci­a­tions, com­mu­nity groups and com­mu­ni­ties de­velop and im­ple­ment strate­gies for deal­ing with labour force ad­just­ments and meet­ing their hu­man re­sources needs.

The New­found­land Aqua­cul­ture In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion has al­ready scored fund­ing through the pro­gram and are us­ing it to launch a labour mar­ket study, train­ing ca­pac­ity re­view and a re­cruit­ment re­ten­tion strat­egy this Septem­ber.

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mark Lane says the next step is about de­vel­op­ing materials to help get the mes­sage out about the ca­reers avail­able in the fastest-grow­ing food pro­duc­tion in­dus­try in the world. It’s about more than just feed­ing fish.

“We need vet­eri­nar­i­ans, we need en­gi­neers, we need me­chan­ics, we need com­mu­ni­ca­tions peo­ple, lawyers, all that sort of thing,” said Lane. “We want to get the mes­sage about how ad­vanced our in­dus­try is that we can en­able peo­ple to do some­thing they love to do in a place they love to live, their home­town, whether it’s Gaultois, Belle­o­ram, Tri­ton, or other places.”

The Ge­n­e­sis Cen­tre, the prov­ince’s award-win­ning in­no­va­tion hub for tech star­tups and host for the bil­lion-dol­lar an­nounce­ment, also have an early piece of the pie.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion has $500,000 to help work with new firms led by fe­male and for­eign founders, as well as other mi­nor­ity groups — $150,000 of which will be al­lo­cated to a seed fund that awards $10,000 to five com­pa­nies each year over three years, al­low­ing them to grow their busi­ness through in­creased re­search and devel­op­ment and staffing.

“It will al­low us to do some re­search of what’s hap­pen­ing else­where around the world in places that are hot­beds of in­no­va­tion like Chile, San Fran­cisco and oth­ers. We’ll be able to look to them and see what they’re do­ing and what their best prac­tices are for work­ing with women, work­ing with im­mi­grants and other mi­nor­ity groups and we’ll be able to bring those best prac­tices back and bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion our­selves and bet­ter de­velop pro­grams to be able to im­ple­ment here.”

Both the prov­ince and Ot­tawa are keen to mea­sure the per­for­mance of its new em­ploy­ment ini­tia­tives.

“We’ll have an un­der­stand­ing of where the pri­or­i­ties should be, we’ll have an un­der­stand­ing of who availed of these op­por­tu­ni­ties, we’ll un­der­stand how ef­fec­tive it’s been and where maybe we should put more to­wards some­thing else that’s proven to be more ef­fec­tive,” O’Re­gan said. “That will only al­low us to im­prove these coun­selling ser­vices as we go along.”

KENN OLIVER / THE TELE­GRAM

Premier Dwight Ball chats with Jim Maid­ment, pres­i­dent of Roshell In­dus­tries and in­ven­tor of the Sk­izee Wood­srun­ner, a mo­tor­ized de­vice that pro­pels skiers across and through snow. The com­pany, based in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, is client of the Ge­n­e­sis Cen­tre, the award-win­ning in­no­va­tion hub for tech star­tups that will ben­e­fit from a por­tion of a $949 mil­lion fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment in em­ploy­ment ini­tia­tives in New­found­land and Labrador over the next six years.

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