Entries in employer role (1)


Training the workforce: the employer's role


It’s not a stretch to say that job creation and employment are issues on the minds of the Peterborough business community. Both will most likely highlight the upcoming municipal election campaign. The role of government is to create the environment or framework within which a business can succeed and grow. Employers are also part of the equation. They are not only the beneficiaries of any government programs; they need to use them. 

Part of employment and job creation revolves around employee training. If you are able to train and improve the knowledge of current employees, thereby making them more productive, the chances are greatly increased that your business will need to expand its human capital to meet demand. In Peterborough, Economic Development officials have said that any new job growth will come from companies with five employees or less. This statement lends even more importance to effective employee training programs that employers can easily tap into. 

A new report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), Essential Skills Ontario (ESO) and co-released with the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce encourages that training programs funded by the federal government and designed and implemented by the province in the form of the Canada Job Grant must adhere to the following five principles: 

  1. Strike a balance between program integrity and emloyer usability 
  2. Facilitate efficiency and effectiveness in the provider market 
  3. Encourage flexibility with respect to how training is delivered 
  4. Encourage sector-based approaches to training 
  5. Drive awareness of training programs within the business community 

The OCC policy group held consultations in eight Ontario communities and met with small and medium enterprises, multi-national firms, industry associations, human resource professionals, training service providers and post-secondary institutions (Report, September 2014). The OCC also used data collected from the membership survey completed earlier this year. 

Since the announcement of the Canada Job Grant program in the 2013 federal budget, a lot has happened. The report from the OCC and ESO details the parameters the Government of Ontario will follow in rolling out upcoming programs: 


  • Available to businesses and non-profit organizations to train workers and unemployed Ontarians in need of skills upgrading 
  • Up to $10,000 provided from government for training costs per person, including tuition and training materials 
  • Requirements for employers to contribute one-third of total training costs, up to $5,000 (with some flexibility for small employers) 
  • Eligible training is limited to short-duration training provided by a third party trainer 


Ontario and many other jurisdictions are in the midst of change, as many sectors of the economy are branching out and taking on challenges to remain competitive. “Employer investments in training lead to gains for the economy. 

Employers who actively invest in the skills of their employees utilize these skills to increase productivity and market-share.” (Report, September 2014). The report also quotes the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which suggests that “even if 10 percent more employers could be persuaded to take this ‘high road’, the Ontario economy would move to a significantly higher skill equilibrium.” 

To support the six recommendations, the report “The Future of Training in Ontario” offers ten actionable suggestions: 

  1. Minimize administrative burdens on employers 
  2. Develop one access point for all government-funded workforce, training and employment services 
  3. Provide flexibility in employer financial contributions 
  4. Reserve funding for small to medium employers and first-time program participations 
  5. Encourage competition and consolidation in the service provider market 
  6. Enable third parties to play a brokerage role 
  7. Where no third party training provider is available, allow employers to train in-house 
  8. Build on existing partnerships between employers and training providers 
  9. Promote a consortia approach to training; allow employers with similar human capital needs to pool resources 
  10. Execute an employer engagement and marketing strategy in collaboration with employer organizations 

The document recognizes employers will need to develop an employee training strategy and that such a strategy has a certain amount of risk, such as losing employees to competitors once the training is complete. Esri Canada, a company that specializes in geographic information system solutions, has had a training program for employees since 2009. A representative told the OCC in 2013 that the company is willing to take the risk of training people and it’s paying off. That being said it’s crucial that any government programs make it easy for businesses to access them and put them to work. 

What does this all mean for employers in Peterborough? It means there will be increased options for training. It means employers will be investing in their workforce, their human capital, just as they invest in their tangible assets. In various roundtables with government officials, again and again, there is a plea from employers to make these type of programs no-brainers. Many employers would take advantage of them if they were easy to use, navigate and complete in a timely manner. 

Employer involvement in training of employees is just one way of pushing the Ontario economy forward, of pushing the greater Peterborough area economy forward and we must keep our options open. 

The full report can be found on the OCC website occ.ca and on the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce website peterboroughchamber.ca 

Comment on this article through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.