The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, spoke at the 2013 Skills and Post-Secondary Education Summit hosted by The Conference Board of Canada. He emphasized the importance of encouraging students to consider in-demand jobs in the skilled trades and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, as well as the role of the Canada Job Grant in helping to fix the skills mismatch in Canada. He also announced funding for The Conference Board of Canada’s new Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education.

“The Canada Job Grant is the cornerstone of our approach to link Canadians with training that leads to a guaranteed job,” said Minister Kenney. “Improving the skills and post-secondary education system is a national priority. Over the past few years, the Government of Canada has provided provinces and territories with a record investment for post-secondary education to help Canadians obtain the skills and education needed to obtain in-demand jobs.”

Minister Kenney pointed out that Canada is currently facing a paradox of too many Canadians without jobs in an economy of too many jobs without Canadians, and stated that fixing the skills mismatch is a responsibility shared by businesses, post-secondary educational institutes and all levels of government.

The Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education is an example of this shared responsibility and partnership. A major five-year initiative launched by The Conference Board of Canada, the Centre will examine Canada’s advanced skills and education challenges.

“The Government of Canada is happy to support the Centre for Post-Secondary Education. As the Centre recognizes, the way to tackle Canada’s skills and education challenges is through partnership,” added Minister Kenney.

Minister Kenney further stressed that providing better job market information to students before they decide on post-secondary education to help them make informed education and career choices is important to better match skills and employer needs. He also spoke of the need to remove the stigma attached to the skilled trades, as well as to encourage more Canadians, especially women, to enter STEM fields.

“Governments need to realize that choices that were made in the 1970s and ’80s in terms of diminishing vocational education, privileging academic post-secondary subsidies over support for technical trades, does not reflect the labour market of today or the future,” said Minister Kenney. “We also need to address the fact that while jobs in STEM fields are increasing at twice the rate of other jobs in Canada, the number of students entering STEM fields has not kept pace, which is causing a growing shortage in certain well-paying sectors.”

A strong economy that delivers prosperity relies on a labour market that is educated, skilled, adaptable and innovative. Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to provide more information to Canadians about on-the-job prospects and the benefits of working in the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and mathematics to promote education in these high-demand fields.

Economic Action Plan 2013 also offers a path to strengthen Canada’s fiscal advantage and spur long-term jobs and growth. For more information, visit www.actionplan.gc.ca.


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