Canada-Provincial Training Grants

Most provinces now offer training grants to encourage employers to improve the skill levels of their employees.  A cynic might say it’s being ramped up because this is an election year.  Nevertheless, from a business perspective, when was being granted up to $12,500 per employee to make your employees even more valuable to your company ever a bad thing?

As most provinces in conjunction with the federal government offer similar programs, let’s focus on the specifics of the Ontario-Canada Job Fund Agreement.  It’s a good case study for the entire group of programs.

On March 28, 2014, Ontario signed the Canada-Ontario Job Fund Agreement with the federal government, which will provide Ontario with approximately $192 million per year for the next six years. To quote from the Ontario guidelines, “the agreement is a key source of funding for new employer-driven training initiatives and represents an opportunity for the province to engage more effectively with employers to support Ontarians in obtaining the skill required to fill and succeed in available jobs.”

Financially, the program is very attractive. Again, from the guidelines, “for employers with fewer than 50 employees, the grant will cover 2/3 of the training cost, not to exceed $10,000, with the employer responsible for the other 1/3. However, of that 1/3 contribution, only one-half must be in cash, while the remainder of the employer’s contribution can be made with in-kind wages to be paid to the individual. For employers applying for multiple grants (editor’s note: multiple employees to be trained), a minimum one-third contribution must be made for each participating individual (i.e. an employer cannot contribute more than one-third for some individuals and less than one-third for others)”. Further, if in-kind contributions result in an equivalent training cost shortfall requiring funding in order to fully pay the training provider, training costs shortfalls can be covered by another government grant contribution up to a maximum of $2,500 per grant.

For companies under 50 employees, if the cost for training is $15,000 per employee, the employer is only out of pocket $2,500 per employee with the rest of the costs being covered by the grant. The additional $2,500 shortfall grant is not available to employers with over 50 employees. So, in this case, if the cost of training is $15,000 per employee, the employer would be required to cover $5,000 of the cost, per employee.

Bottom line, for small companies, the grant can cover 83.333% of costs, while for larger companies, the grant can cover 66.666% of costs. That is certainly attractive.

Are you currently contemplating commissioning a new piece of machinery to expand your product offerings or improve your production turnaround? If so, here’s your chance to properly train multiple operators on the use of this machinery. Better still, with the product vendor expert on site, you can try some of those complex requests that your existing or potential clients require. Further, knowing there is grant money to subsidize your purchase, your bargaining position with the vendor is strengthened.

What about new company-wide computer systems, for example, business management software modules (ERP), or customer relationship management (CRM), or departmentally focused solutions like web based selling, or logistics management? In order to reduce costs, have you opted for or do you plan on using the “train the trainer approach”? Certain vendors favour this approach as it creates a “super user” who is easy for them to train, and requires a less disciplined training curriculum. While this can and often does work, the opposite is also true. Many “super users” are not equipped or desirous of properly training others. It’s a tedious and time consuming task, and many super users interpret the job as the untrained user looking over his/her shoulder while the super user works. That’s not training.

With government funding available, do it right. Set up a training room, a training database, and curriculum. And then, in the future, when new staff comes on board, you are also ready to train them.

In this competitive marketplace, all aspects of your business need to be kept up to date from equipment to systems to personnel. Here is a great opportunity to improve your workforce with the help of a government grant.

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Elliot Schiller is a Director at Toronto’s Teeger Schiller Inc., a firm specializing in government funding and systems selection/implementation. His clients receive over $5 M annually to support ongoing business innovation. E-mail eschiller@teegerschiller.com, visit www.FundingHelp.ca or phone 1-888-816-0222 Ext. 102