Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, February 14, 2023. Champagne spoke in Toronto on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Industry minister announces $250 million to train workers for emerging sectors

Ottawa is launching a $250 million training program targeting skills needed for high-growth sectors, federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Friday.

The program, funding for which was announced in the 2021 budget, will help 15,000 mid-career workers to transition into new positions in sectors including clean tech, cybersecurity and bio manufacturing, he said.

“I’m one of those who believe that we have everything that the new economy needs and wants. It starts with people,” Champagne said.

The Upskilling for Industry Initiative will be delivered through not-for-profit organization Palette Skills, which was chosen after a call for applications that closed last year, the minister said.

Champagne said the initiative will connect industry, employers, post-secondary institutions and private training providers to deliver upskilling programs.

The funding will support the development and implementation of short-cycle upskilling programs based on industry needs, he said.

There are “tectonic shifts” occurring with the move toward a green economy and a more digital world, said Champagne.

“Canada has what the economy of the 21st century needs,” he said.

Palette CEO Rhonda Barnet said that organizations across the country such as training organizations and post-secondary institutions will be able to propose programs and apply for the funding.

The targeted training programs will be between four and 16 weeks long, she said.

The minister spoke at a Canadian Club event on Friday afternoon in Toronto, saying Canada is facing generational opportunities that need to be seized.

He said Canada’s greatest asset is talent, and said that is what allows the country to attract large investments in key sectors.

He said Canada has seen unprecedented investment in emerging technologies because it has the fundamentals to support it, giving as an example a hydrogen plant being built in Alberta by Air Products Canada.

“I’m very pleased to say that Canada is still a big magnet for talent,” he said.

Champagne said food security, energy security and supply chain resiliency are top of mind for leaders around the world, and he thinks Canada can play a big role in those three areas.

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