New opportunities for training and economic growth in Yukon

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, September 26th, 2014 by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education

As Yukon’s Minister of Education, I regard training for workers as one of my top priorities, key to the success of our economy and the territory’s future.

For the past year, territories and provinces have been working with the Government of Canada to negotiate a new agreement to put additional dollars in the hands of employers to train existing and potential workers. That work has resulted in a number of bilateral agreements with provincial and territorial governments including our own Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement that Yukon MP Ryan Leef and I signed earlier this month.

The new agreement includes three streams of funding: 1) the Canada Job Grant; 2) Employment Services and Supports; and 3) Employer-Sponsored Training.

Seeing this initiative come to fruition is an important milestone for Yukon, and reflects the best deal possible for Yukoners through engagement with local stakeholders and national negotiations.

Prior to commencing discussions amongst Provincial and Territorial Labour Market Ministers last fall, I was pleased to host a meeting of various stakeholders to discuss the proposed Canada Job Grant and to obtain preliminary feedback and suggestions for consideration. An open-ended questionnaire was also sent to organizations for distribution amongst their respective members. I would like to thank each of the representatives who participated in these discussions and provided invaluable input. By working together, provinces and territories were able to achieve a number of changes to the original program which have helped to strengthen the program overall.

For example, when we started negotiations, Yukon was slated to receive a 50% reduction in funding — reflective of the end of federal stimulus funding attached to our Labour Market Agreement. By working with our territorial counterparts in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, we were able to secure approximately $1 million annually in funding for each of the territories, maintaining our existing level of funding. In consideration of small business, a provision was also negotiated wherein employers with fewer than 50 employees will not be required to come up with one third of the direct costs of training. Rather, this provision was changed so that half of the one third contribution by employers can now be counted as wages or wage replacement for the trainee.

In addition, we successfully secured a commitment to evaluate the six-year Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement after two years, to assess the overall uptake, administration and effectiveness.

Starting immediately, Yukon employers can now apply for the Canada Job Grant to help Yukoners gain the skills and training they need to fill available jobs. The Grant will provide Yukon employers with up to $10,000 for training costs for an employee or potential employee, including tuition and training materials. Under this initiative, it is employers who decide who will be trained and what training will be offered. This puts the decision-making rightfully into the hands of the people who know their business best.

The second stream of the Canada-Yukon Job Fund, Employment Services and Supports, picks up where the previous Labour Market Agreements left off. It gives priority to groups under-represented in Yukon’s labour market, including Yukoners with disabilities, Aboriginal Yukoners and Yukon youth. Over $650,000 has been allocated for programs this year under Employment Services and Supports.

The third stream of the Canada-Yukon Job Fund, Employer-Sponsored Training, is currently under development with our partners. It will be similar to the Canada Job Grant in that employers will determine the nature of the training and who receives it, but it will have a broader scope for training activities and costs.

The overall Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement will help meet goals set out in the Yukon government’s Labour Market Framework. Specifically, the Agreement helps to ensure that training opportunities are available to all Yukoners to adapt effectively and efficiently to changing needs for skills, knowledge and abilities. It also will facilitate and improve learning and employment transitions.

During the past year of work, it was invaluable to have the benefit of thoughtful contributions from Yukon stakeholders. I would like to extend my thanks to those who offered their input and helped our government successfully negotiate a deal that better suits our unique Yukon labour market.

Elaine Taylor
Minister of Education

For more information on the Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement, please go to http://www.education.gov.yk.ca/employers/cjf.html.