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The measures announced in today’s budget are a significant step forward in the federal government’s attack on Canada’s skills challenge. We welcome a more activist approach by all Canada’s governments to confront a growing problem.

The skills problem leads our Top 10 list of critical barriers to Canada’s competitiveness. It’s showing up all across the country, in every industry. We are pleased to see the government is moving to confront it, and to include business directly in the solutions.

We have long believed training programs should be designed and run by those closest to the workforce. We believe in the leadership role of the provinces and territories, which these measures respect, but we’re pleased to see business and educators will now have a central role as well. Of course, small- and medium-sized businesses have specific challenges when it comes to training their employees and we are pleased the government recognises that.

We also support the new federal measures to improve training and education for Aboriginal peoples. Although these are very modest measures, they are a step in the right direction. Most Aboriginal peoples are young. They represent a huge potential workforce, but we have to support them more. Funding for Aboriginal education at all levels has lagged for many years, and education results have, too. It’s not hard to see the connection.

Consult the government’s Economic Action Plan 2013: The New Canada Job Grant.

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