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Build your skills: government funding is available – be proactive

Getting serious about workforce training? Here are some programs to get your company started.


April 21, 2017
by Jeff Shepherd

A strong, diverse, and skilled workforce opens the door to new opportunities for Canadian manufacturers. Being proactive in your approach to hiring and training ensures skills gaps are closed and productivity is strengthened.

As technology and innovation become even more important to manufacturing, ensure your company has the talent to serve market demand is essential.

Skills gaps are a challenge faced by many manufacturers. PLANT’s Manufacturers’ Outlook 2017 report shows 35% of surveyed businesses believe they’re limited by skills shortages.

Over the next three years, 60% of manufacturers plan to invest in training, delivered internally or led by third-party trainers.

This is a wise strategy but cost a common barrier to implementing training. As a result, many companies perform infrequent and internal training that meets minimum requirements.

But there is funding for training initiatives by leveraging a mix of government grants, loans, and tax incentives.
The following training incentives offset the costs of building a skilled workforce:

The Canada Job Grant (CJG). This federal grant is available in provincial variants, except Québec, which opted to manage its training support services separately. Initiatives can be one-time or multiple professional development sessions, but they must deliver benefits to the employee and company in the home province.

Manufacturers receive up to 66% of expenses to a maximum $10,000 per trainee. In some provinces, such as Ontario, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can access compensation for trainees’ salaries. Some provinces place a cap on the total.

The program is open to Canadian-based businesses with $2 million in liability insurance. Trainees must be permanent Canadian citizens or be granted refugee status, and projects must be completed within the year.

Project themes include lean manufacturing, software and technology, sales and marketing project management, food safety, strategic planning and leadership. Outcomes include wage increases, new job titles, avoidance of job loss and new employee training.

FedDev Ontario Productivity Training Incentive. Funding is for internal and third party training aimed at improving productivity and export sales. Two types of training projects are supported: improving productivity and capabilities; and developing more innovative, efficient, export-oriented production processes.

Applicants are eligible for up to $50,000. Manufacturers who haven’t received program funding in the past can get up to 50% of their training costs covered. Those who have received funding may be eligible for up to 25% of their expenses, based on when they last applied.

Eligible Ontario companies must have three years of solid financial performance, between 10 to 1,000 employees and export or be willing to export when the program is completed.

Training focuses on new technology adoption and developing a more skilled, innovative and export-focused workforce.

Employee onboarding grants. Federal government grants are used strategically to reduce payroll costs for new employees while they develop required skills to effectively carry out their roles.

Grants are available to support the hiring of recent post-secondary graduates who are either unemployed or underemployed. In most cases, successful applicants receive up to 50% of the employee’s wages up to $14,000 to $20,000. These programs typically provide funding to support the first few months of employment.

Apprenticeship funding. The Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit is specific to Red Seal Trades and provides a tax credit of up to 10% of eligible wages, to an annual maximum of $2,000 per apprentice for the first two years of apprenticeship.

The Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit (Ontario) covers up to 25% of eligible expenses (or 30% for small businesses) to an annual maximum of $5,000 per apprentice, and a maximum $15,000 over a 36-month period.

Manufacturers expect industrial innovation and more sophisticated production methods to widen the skills gap.Accessing funding programs for training initiatives will help narrow it.

Jeff Shepherd is a marketing coordinator at Kitchener, Ont.-based Mentorworks, a business support organization that specializes in Canadian government funding.

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