Good news for a province where jobs are plenty, but skilled workers are in scarce demand. In a bid to combat the seemingly widening skills gap in Saskatchewan and encourage more employers to get involved in worker training schemes, two agreements have recently been signed by the federal and provincial governments.
The Saskatchewan Job Fund Agreement, signed last month, aims to get some more much-needed Saskatchewan residents into the job market.
Jason Kenney, Federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, said: “If there is one big strategic challenge we are facing right now in Western Canada generally, and in Saskatchewan in particular, it is a gap of skills.”
Kenney continued: “We don’t have enough people with the right skills to fill all the jobs that are available and to fuel our future prosperity.”
Kenney paid a visit to Regina on August 25 in order to put his signature on the Saskatchewan Job Fund Agreement, currently set to send $16 million annually to pay for necessary initiatives to improve Saskatchewan’s labour market needs and breathe new life into the province’s job market.
A good slice of the funds will go to helping more groups currently under-represented in the labour market find work, including Metis and First Nations people.
There are hopes the agreement will tackle the current job market “paradox” Saskatchewan is currently experiencing, where there are not enough workers for its surplus of available jobs. Current estimates say Saskatchewan will require around 35,000 new workers and a further 60,000 replacements over the next five-year period. That’s a lot of people.
Jeremy Harrison, provincial Minister of Immigration, Jobs, Skills and Training, said: “As you can imagine, finding people to fill these jobs can prove difficult, especially when our labour market is as tight as it is.”
Other initiatives to help improve the situation have come from the likes of a Canada Job Grant, allocating as much as $15,000 for training per potential employees. However, a third of that cost will have to be put forward by employers.
Anne Neufeld, current academic provost from SIAST (one of the third-party trainers approved for the initiative), was there to welcome the new announcement, and stated that such an incentive would encourage employers to make a greater contribution towards professional development for their employees.
SIAST has agreed to customize its programs for specific employee needs, and with a lack of restrictions on part-time employee training and learning, there seems nothing to stop this initiative from taking off and really making a difference in the lives of many Saskatchewan residents. The new agreements could also encourage more immigrants to take advantage of the job/skills opportunities.
What do you think of the latest news on the Saskatchewan Job Fund Agreement?
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