March 13, 2009 13:21 ET

Canada Launches Major Vocational Training Initiative for South American Countries

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 13, 2009) - The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today announced the second component of the Skills for Employment initiative that will help developing countries in the Andean region of South America build a skilled workforce necessary for economic growth.

"In developing countries, for those living in poverty to succeed, basic education is only the first step. They also need training, skills and a chance for meaningful employment to live productive lives," said Minister Oda. "A skilled workforce will strengthen the foundation of businesses and industries as well as improve the community's social stability. Canada, and institutions such as the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, has the tools to provide the necessary know-how and help to develop a qualified workforce in developing countries around the world. That's what the Skills for Employment initiative aims to do."

The South America component of the Skills for Employment initiative consists of an investment in specific projects in the range of $20 million. This funding is part of an overall new investment of $95 million to support vocational and technical training projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas. It is in addition to the $140 million annual average that CIDA already invests in vocational training. The skills training provided under this initiative will help women, men and youth gain the skills they need to participate in, and contribute to, the economic and social development of their own communities.

"Canada's colleges and institutes provide graduates with employment ready advanced skills essential for economic growth," said Mr. Knight. "Supporting colleges in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru to do the same is a powerful development approach that will lead to sustainable impacts, and contribute substantially to internationalizing Canadian campuses so that we better prepare our students and faculty for a globalized world." ACCC represents 152 Canadian community colleges, institutes of technology, vocational training institutes, CEGEPs and university colleges across Canada.

The initiative in the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia and Colombia is a key element of the Government of Canada's engagement in the Americas.

Today in London, Ont., Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke about support and assistance for Canadian workers, contained in Canada's Economic Action Plan.

The Prime Minister drew attention to four Action Plan initiatives designed to help workers and to open up new job opportunities through improved skills:

- Labour Market Development Agreements - additional funding will help the provinces deliver skills training support to workers who qualify for EI benefits.

- The Strategic Training and Transition Fund - makes skills and training programs more flexible to support workers with differing needs.

- The Targeted Initiative for Older Workers - supports communities in transition by providing new skills training for workers aged 55 to 64.

- Support for Long-Tenured Workers - extends income support for long-tenured workers who have not made significant use of EI benefits and who are seeking long-term training.

"There is no question that the global recession is taking its toll on many Canadian workers and communities," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "That's why this Government is investing in several measures to assist these workers and their families. It is up to all of us to help those who have lost their jobs as a result of this economic crisis. Doing so will help to ensure that Canada and its workforce emerge from these difficult timees stronger than ever before.



The Canadian International Development Agency's Skills for Employment programming in South America will focus on Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The objective is to unite Canadian community colleges with their counterparts in these countries to establish technical and vocational education and training programs that will achieve concrete and quantifiable results. Initial work through the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) will determine which sectors and which institutions in the region will be the focus of investments in the range of $20 million.

The countries of the Andean region believe that strong technical and vocational education and training programs with solid links to the labour market will contribute to social stability and inclusion, poverty reduction, and sustainable economic development. The challenge now facing these developing countries is how to improve access to high-quality, relevant skills training programs.

The Skills for Employment initiative will help reform the approach and delivery of skills training, will help modernize curricula design and teaching practices and establish a network of institutional partners to ensure sustainability. The end goal of the Skills for Employment initiative in South America is to significantly increase the number of young men and women in skilled positions and meaningful employment.

The Skills for Employment initiative in the Andean region of South America is a key element of Canada's commitment to playing a bigger role in the Americas, to promote basic democratic values, to strengthen economic linkages and to meet new security challenges. The end goal of the Skills for Employment initiative is to reduce poverty and inequity effectively contributing to achieving Canada's vision in the Americas.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Michelle Coates
    Press Secretary
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office