By Nikki Jamieson
Westwind Weekly News
Alberta has launched one of the largest jobs training program in the province’s history.
Up to $370 million has been provided to the Alberta Jobs Now program to help private and non-profit businesses support much-needed jobs for unemployed and underemployed Albertans across the province.
Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping said while Alberta is now nearing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province recognizes working Albertans will feel its impacts long after.
“We’ve gone through the past year, one of the worst global economic recessions since the Great Depression and one of the biggest collapses in energy prices,” said Copping, noting the province’s unemployment rate is about nine per cent. “A key part of our recovery strategy is going to be the Alberta Jobs Now program.”
The Alberta Jobs Now program will help an estimated 22,000 Albertans get back to work, and aims to help them get back to work in permanent full-time positions.
Small, medium and large-sized business employers can apply for this program in the private and non-profit sectors, from all sectors and industries around the province.
“There is no requirement for a certain amount of profit loss or revenue loss. What this program is focused on is on growing, of Alberta employers who want to create new jobs and are willing to make a commitment to have that job in place.”
Employers can apply for a grant that covers 25 per cent of an employee’s salary for a 52-week period, up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee, and can be used to cover salary or training costs.
“What we’ve heard from employers is what they needed, one of the barriers for them to create more jobs for Albertans is for some, it was training — the people they wanted to hire didn’t quite have the skill-sets needed, they needed to spend money on retraining, so we provided that option.
“For some, it was actually just the cost of employing, again — in very challenging times, in terms of economic growth, so it was used for wages. And some also recognized there wasn’t official training programs they could buy into, but they needed on-the-job training to occur and to be able to permit that,” said Copping.
“We are providing employers with what they said they needed to create jobs, and the flexibility to use this money — however they see fit, to be able to get Albertans back to work.”
Employers who hire persons with disabilities will be able to receive a grant of up to 37.5 per cent.
“We recognize those with disabilities, there’s additional barriers to get to work,” said Copping. “Some employers may have to make modifications to the work place, modifications to the working station or additional training may be required for people with disabilities, and we want to get all Albertans back to work.”
For training to be covered by the grant, it must be relevant to the current operational needs of the business and result in skills development directly connected to the available job; be delivered online, on-site or in a classroom, and may be undertaken part-time or fulltime; is started and completed within the duration of the grant; and take place in Alberta — except under exceptional circumstances.
Funding through the Alberta Jobs Now program may be used to cover the direct training costs such as tuition fees or fees charged by a training provider; mandatory student fees; textbooks, software and other required materials; and examination fees.
Ineligible training includes apprenticeship training, self-study for an exam, training for personal interest, travel costs related to training and any training that is or will be funded for the same employee under a different training program, such as the Canada-Alberta Job Grant.
“What this focus is on is providing training with a huge amount of flexibility. So if an employer says, ‘look, I’m going to pay them their salary, whatever that is, $50,000 a year, for example, and then I’m going to use the subsidy to send them out to do training that’s relevant for the job, whether they get a certificate and whatever they need,’they can do that. Or they can also (do) on-the-job training. Recognizing most employees who come into a position may have the skill-set and knowledge to do the role, but they don’t know how that particularly applies to that employer, so reducing the cost of on-the-job training, they can include that, as well.”
To be eligible for the program, employees need to be either unemployed or underemployed. The new hire must reside and work in Alberta and must not have worked for the employer within the past 90 days. Employers can apply for funding for up to 20 new employees.
The employer will receive half the payment the third month after a new individual is hired, with the other half being received after a year.
Employers will be able to apply for the first intake from May 20 and have until Aug. 31 to apply. A second intake will open Sept. 15 and close Dec. 3.
“As we roll this program out, we’re continuing to hear from employers, from Albertans, in terms of what’s working, what’s not working, and we’ll be able to tweak the design.”
For more information or to apply, visit alberta.ca/jobsnow.