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Your McMurray Career Advice

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An Employer’s Guide: Meeting the skill demands of the labour market

The issue of skill shortage has always been evident in the labour market in Alberta. With some of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada, finding skilled and trained workers is not easy. While there are so many people coming to Fort McMurray looking for employment and for that golden opportunity to work in the Oil Sands, often times they do not have the right training or skills to work in the high-demand jobs that they came here to do. Especially with the recent changes in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, employers are recognizing the need now more than ever to invest in training in order to up-skill their workers and to address the TFW gap and skill shortage. Training is the key to developing the workforce and ensuring that we have the skills that are needed to keep up with our booming labour market, however, many employers are unable to offer training as it can be very costly and this in turn can have a big impact on job satisfaction and retention.

Heard about the Canada-Alberta Job Grant?

The Government of Canada and Government of Alberta have recently introduced the Canada-Alberta Job Grant. It was in the works for quite some time and is now available to employers to help address the skills deficit and ensure that employees are being trained to work in the high-demand areas. The grant aims to result in increased worker retention and productivity because it gives the employers an opportunity to invest in the employees and gives the employees an opportunity to up-skill and increase their potential. As stated on the website, ‘the Canada-Alberta Job Grant will help employers develop workers to suit their needs and provide people with the jobs they need to succeed’.

Vanessa Cheeseman, Workforce Consultant with the Ministry of Jobs, Skills Training and Labour spoke about some of the advantages for an employer to apply for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant. “Employers don’t have to look to hire someone externally, they can train existing employees from within and they can save on training costs as well as ultimately saving on recruitment costs and increased retention of their staff.”

What’s even more exciting about this new initiative is that it can be accessed by both private and nonprofit employers- this is great news for smaller businesses and agencies that do not have the budget dollars needed for employee training; they can now potentially utilize this funding to help offset two thirds of the training costs for new and existing employees. The way it works is that the Federal Government will pay one third, the Provincial Government will pay one third and the employer will pay the remaining one third of the training costs. The training must be provided by a third party either onsite, online or at an outside location, it should be a minimum of 25 hours a week and is dependent on what the employer needs. The grant can cover a variety of training options: from equipment/operator training for work onsite, to improving customer service skills through English Second Language (ESL) training. This opportunity for employers to partner with the Federal and Provincial Governments and provide up-skilling to employees is a great example of commitment to the future growth and sustainability of our labour market and workforce.

For more information about the Canada-Alberta Job Grant and to apply online please visit Applications are screened on a first come first serve basis, so if you are an employer, take advantage of this opportunity and utilize the job grant to ‘train the workers you need’.

For other employer services and resources or information, including assistance with recruitment and job ad’s, drop by the Alberta Works Centre at 9915 Franklin Avenue, and speak to your local labour market experts!


Samra Ilyas works for Alberta Works/Human Services in Fort McMurray, providing employment and financial supports and services. With expertise in career development and years of experience, she shares some advice and ideas through the YMM Career Advice column.

Samra is also a community leader and dedicated volunteer; participating in various boards/committees such as the RMWB Landlord and Tenants Advisory Board, Collaboration for Religious Inclusion, Northern Lights Sisters Association and a local school council. She is a strong advocate of Fort McMurray and actively encourages and promotes volunteerism as a way to give back to the community.

Got a question or have an idea for a topic? DM and follow Samra on Twitter @ilyasSamra.