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Since 2003, Ontario has introduced a number of initiatives to boost higher education and skills training, and support apprenticeship training so that Ontario's workforce is among the most skilled in the world.

In the 2009 Budget, the Ontario government announced $750 million in investments in new skills training and literacy initiatives and to strengthen existing programs.

These investments include:
  • $94 million over two years for more support for newcomers, serving 15,000 more clients each year;

  • $90 million over two years to increase literacy and basic skills training, helping up to 13,000 more Ontarians each year;

  • $5 million over two years to develop the Green Jobs Skills Strategy that responds to labour demand in the emerging green energy sector, including electricity;

  • $50 million annually in proposed investments to the Co-operative Education Tax Credit and to make the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit the most generous in Canada; and

  • an increase in spending on summer jobs for young people by 57 per cent, to nearly $90 million in 2009, to help more than 100,000 people this summer.

Many of these services will be available through Employment Ontario, Ontario's integrated employment and training network. The Ontario government created Employment Ontario to make it easier for Ontarians to find employment and training programs and services.

Each year, Employment Ontario serves more than 900,000 people including:
  • Employers, who can use the network to find the workers with the skills they need;

  • Laid-off workers who benefit from skills training and other employment and career planning services; and

  • Workers, apprentices, newcomers, and youth, who benefit from access to lifelong learning vital to career success.

If you're laid-off or out of work, Employment Ontario can provide jobseekers with personalized help.

At assessment centres in colleges and community based organizations, Employment Ontario counsellors assess people's skills and experience and help them get the help they need to plan their career, get training, and find and keep a job.

Employment Ontario counsellors can provide jobseekers with information about who's hiring and trends in the local job market. Jobseekers can learn about high-demand jobs and get support for the long-term training essential to start a new career through Second Career, which was launched last year to help laid-off workers.

In addition, Employment Ontario provides financial help and advice to people to develop and start their own businesses.

To learn more about Employment Ontario programs and services, call the hotline at
1-800-387-5656 or visit online at

Enrollment in colleges and institutes soars in hard times. Through close ties with employers, these institutions sharply focus on the employment futures and careers of graduates. College education is the primary choice for adults whose jobs have been displaced by an economic slowdown and who want to upgrade their credentials or acquire new advanced skills. A high percentage of college graduates obtain employment in their chosen field. Many of Canada's 150 colleges and institutes report placement rates in excess of 90 percent. Further, the laid-off auto worker or high-tech employee who attends college to add qualifications or train for another career will find that all colleges and institutes practice Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition. PLAR takes into account the skills acquired through years of work experience when placing learners into various fields of study. Experience is not wasted, it is recognized and reinforced.

From A to Z, the range of programs offered by colleges ensures that individuals from all sectors and fields can find their up-skill or re-skill niche. And this applies to employers looking to change business streams or renew the skills of their employees. Colleges and institutes are renowned for customized workplacebased learning offered either on-site, on-line, or on campus.

Colleges, institutes, polytechnics, and cégeps are vibrant and innovative. Applied research and development undertaken by these institutions in partnership with local businesses is on the cuttingedge and geared towards solutions that reach the marketplace. Areas of research are as numerous as the programs offered, ranging from wind and alternative energy, renewable resources, agriculture and agri-food, computer sciences, construction technology, avionics, aerospace, health, medical and laboratory services, emergency services, virtual reality, geomatics, cyber-security, and fibre optics to name but a few. Leading companies bring their need for prototypes and process solutions to colleges. Students often take the lead in projects, deploying their new knowledge and advanced skills to reach solutions. College graduates are innovative solution providers highly valued by employers.

Prior to the economic downturn, employers warned that the key factor limiting the expansion of their businesses was the critical shortage of advanced skills. The Conference Board of Canada reported that many sectors of the economy had already shifted from an excess supply of talent to an excess demand. Demographic realities cannot be denied. We are an aging population. An ever falling percentage of the population will be employed. To remain competitive and to improve productivity, we must ensure that those who are available for employment are highly skilled. The economic recovery when it comes could easily stumble and fall owing to a shortage of human capital. The time to improve Canada's overall skill and competency level is now.

Choosing colleges and institutes for adult re-skilling and workplace-based training is the answer for smart businesses. Maximizing the skills of employees is the top strategy for business success. Members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report that small-and medium-sized enterprises will require the advanced skills of college graduates on a ratio of 6:1 over university graduates (explaining why so many university graduates register for a college education.) Soaring enrollment in colleges and institutes results not only from the smart choices of adults seeking new careers, but also from employer demand. Colleges and institutes with their unique brand of educationindustry interaction are providing the solutions to advanced skills equations in 1,000 campuses in 1,000 Canadian communities. They are growing the local talent pool by re-skilling displaced workers, by offering customized workplace training, and by providing applied research and development oriented to the marketplace.

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