TORONTO: Applications are now open for the Ontario government’s new two-year $115 million Skills Development Fund.
The fund, which will support workers and apprentices, is specifically designed to address the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and help reduce obstacles to hiring, training and retaining while preparing workers for the province’s economic recovery.
“When faced with unprecedented challenges we need innovative solutions, that’s why we developed this new Skills, Development Fund.
It will lead to fresh and creative ideas to help get people back on the job and kick-start our communities,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
“My message to workers is clear – there is hope and opportunity around the corner. I’m calling on everyone – businesses, union leaders and training providers – to submit your ideas and participate in our economic recovery.”
The Skills Development Fund will accept applications from a wide range of employment and training organizations in Ontario, and the focus will be on:
• giving laid-off workers immediate access to training supports or new jobs
• improving the quality of training
• reaching out to traditionally underrepresented groups
• increasing apprentice registrations and completion
• better serving local communities
• supporting the talent needs of small businesses
Examples of projects from the fund could include: a digital career fair that allows employers to connect with job seekers impacted by COVID-19, mentorship programs and career counseling for apprentices while they are training on-the-job, the creation of training materials that teach employers how to accommodate employees who have disabilities, and making workspaces and equipment more accessible.
Applicants, including employers, apprenticeship training delivery agents, unions, post-secondary institutions, community organizations and others can now submit proposals beginning today, until February 28, 2021.
• The fund will help quickly address the needs of Ontario’s employers and workers by offering up to $100 million in the first application round in February 2021. The second round of projects is planned to provide an additional $15 million in spring.
• In its 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, the government committed an additional $180.5 million over three years to help existing workers improve their skills. The budget also includes a skilled trades strategy, an additional $100 million of dedicated investments through Employment Ontario for skills training, a redesigned Second Career program, and $59.5 million over three years to help workers acquire in-demand skills.
Sue VanderBent, CEO of Home Care Ontario, said. “Ontario’s home care system continues to face a significant worker shortage. Today’s announcement will help the home care sector implement new options that can rapidly train and deploy workers to address this major issue. “
Stephen Hamilton, Chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA), said: “This is what’s needed to help restart Ontario’s economy. It will allow employers to play an important role in ensuring workers are getting the right training for jobs that are in demand now, and the future. “