The Manitoba government announced a new strategy on Monday that it says will help the economy grow now and in the future following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Skills, Talent and Knowledge Strategy is a collaboration between post-secondary institutions, industry and government to help "accelerate recovery" from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as advance the economy.
The new strategy was created from information that came from public engagements and included anticipating skills needed for the future, aligning education and training to labour market needs and helping students succeed, fostering entrepreneurial and innovative skills, and attracting and retaining talent.
"The goal of the strategy is to ensure we have the people with the right skills, talent and knowledge at the right time," said Wayne Ewasko, who is the Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister.
Ewasko said the province has been in talks with post-secondary schools as well as sector partners and the Premier's Economic Opportunities Advisory Board. He added the province also hosted an online town hall to help create this strategy.
"The pandemic has underscored the need for ensuring that individuals gain the skills and competencies needed for our employers in order to grow our economy, create jobs and promote prosperous communities where all individuals can enjoy a high quality of life."
The minister said now more than ever, Manitoba needs to be ready for the post-pandemic era.
"As we continue to move out of the pandemic, we need to make sure our students, our workforce is skilled up and trained."
Ewasko said the strategy is a living, breathing document that the entire province will undertake over the next three years.
He added this strategy will be focused on all skills from technology to health-care.
"There are ambitious goals and plans within the strategy that will see us get going right off the bat, and then as time will roll along, we will be revamping and taking a look at how we're moving at the post-secondary level."
Ewasko said there will be a yearly report on the progress of the strategy in Manitoba.
CONCERNS ABOUT STRATEGY
The construction industry is voicing its concern about the province's new strategy. It said part of the announcement includes changes to Apprenticeship Manitoba, which could result in lower wages and fewer career opportunities for apprentices.
"While the current system provides superior training and mentorship, these changes will create barriers for apprentices to achieve journeyperson status and dis-incentivize employers from employing current journeypersons," Sudhir Sandhu, the CEO of Manitoba Building Trades, said in a statement.
Manitoba Building Trades said it recently sent a letter to Manitoba's Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler stating concerns regarding a lack of consultation by the government to Apprenticeship Manitoba.
The organization wants to see the government change the strategy before the proposed changes "cause lasting damage to the industry and Manitoba's economy as a whole."
Jamie Moses, the Manitoba NDP Critic for Advanced Education and Skills, said this new strategy fails to support students and will hurt the economy.
"Aside from cutting their funding, raising tuition, and cutting students supports like the ACCESS bursary; they want to interfere in programming so that courses that don't pass their 'value-for-money' test are cut. It will mean less funding for social sciences, humanities and the arts," Moses said in an emailed statement to CTV News.
The entire strategy can be viewed below.