Minister Boissonnault announces federal investments for inclusive learning and skills development in Alberta

News release

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Over $8.8 million through PrairiesCan will help connect youth and underrepresented Canadians to new career opportunities across diverse sectors

December 18, 2023 – Edmonton, Alberta – PrairiesCan

Alberta is home to the youngest population in Canada and has the highest number of people moving to it from other provinces. With Alberta’s fast growing entrepreneurial culture creating significant demand for skilled workers across various sectors of the economy, the Government of Canada is making investments to help meet the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses while supporting youth and underrepresented Canadians to take advantage of new career opportunities.

Today, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, on behalf of the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, announced federal funding of more than $8.8 million for 11 organizations to deliver quality training that will better prepare youth and underrepresented groups in Alberta to tackle the challenges of tomorrow and innovate across a wide range of industries.

Training will focus on high-growth fields that continue to have current and future workforce demands, including Indigenous economic development, value-added agriculture, data science and digital technology, and technical sales and marketing. Examples of organizations and projects receiving support include:

  • Technology Alberta is receiving more than $2.3 million to develop and implement the second phase of its First Industrial Research, Science or Technology (FIRST) job placement program to help post-secondary students and recent graduates find career opportunities with Alberta technology firms.
  • The Alberta Chambers of Commerce is receiving more than $765,000 to facilitate alignment and coordination among Alberta's post-secondary institutions and the business community—including collecting and disseminating labour market information, engaging employers and students to expand work integrated learning, and assessing requirements for a shared online portal to connect employers and students through a single access point.
  • The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is receiving more than $308,000 to create and deliver its Blue Book Program to provide students with the opportunity to move a business from idea to launch.
  • The Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO) is receiving over $184,000 to create and deliver a coaching program for Indigenous youth economic development officers, entrepreneurs, and business owners.
  • Young Agrarians is receiving more than $1 million to scale-up its Grow-A-Farmer Program to deliver specialized agriculture entrepreneurship programming, on-farm internships, mentorship, and capacity building that increase businesses-readiness and technology adoption for farm entrepreneurs across the Prairies.

Today’s investments are expected to help support a total of more than 1,600 jobs and approximately 4,500 training opportunities. Federal funding is provided through three programs administered by PrairiesCan in Alberta: The Community Economic Development and Diversification program (CEDD); the Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF); and the Regional Innovation Ecosystems program (RIE).

Each of the PrairiesCan investments made today is complemented by funding support by various levels of government, private sector partners, and additional not-for-profit organizations. This collaboration is at the heart of the Government of Canada’s new Framework to Build a Green Prairie Economy.

The Framework was launched today after extensive consultations with Prairie stakeholders. It is a long-term commitment to work differently, through stronger coordination with and among federal departments on investments for the Prairies and closer collaboration with Prairie partners on their priorities for a prosperous and sustainable Prairie economy that leaves no one behind. PrairiesCan will dedicate $100 million over three years to leverage and attract new investments and support projects aligned with five priorities identified in the consultations: 

  • Growing key regional sectors, including natural resources, agriculture, and manufacturing;
  • Effective movement of goods, people, and information;
  • Expanding and capitalizing on clean electricity;
  • Community economic development; and,
  • Economic reconciliation and inclusive growth.  

This Framework is intended to encourage greater collaboration on investment opportunities, leverage additional funding, and attract new investments across the Prairies.


“Our government is making investments to help enable small- and medium-sized businesses across the Prairies to find and retain the skilled workers they need to grow and remain globally competitive. Today’s investments are both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do—for the benefit of our economy as well as the youth and underrepresented Canadians who can now access vital skills training that leads to fulfilling, high-demand careers.”

- The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan

“Small businesses make up 98% of Canadian small businesses and provide good jobs to workers across Alberta.  Whether it’s supporting budding farmers eager to embrace new technologies or collaborating with Indigenous youth who have a novel idea, today’s announcement puts skills training and educational opportunities within reach and helps build an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable workforce for Alberta.”

- The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages 

“Alberta’s industries are taking off, and that means employers are looking for more skilled and talented workers to help keep their businesses growing. Work-integrated learning opportunities are a great way to prepare students for the workforce; they give learners the job-ready skills they need to launch successful careers when they graduate, right here in Alberta. I applaud NAIT and our post-secondary institutions for their commitment to build partnerships with industry, providing more WIL opportunities that will benefit all Albertans for years to come.”

-  The Honourable Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education, Government of Alberta

"We at Technology Alberta are pleased to be part of Alberta's innovation ecosystem that collaboratively has been supporting the growth of Alberta's small- and medium-sized tech companies - and helping address one of their top 3 stated needs - Access to Talent. Today's announced federal funding through PrairiesCan, together with the support from multiple ministries at the Government of Alberta, and the outstanding community of tech entrepreneurs across the province - has put Technology Alberta on course to deliver 750 work placements for Alberta post-secondary students and new graduates, helping grow Alberta's tech companies while creating Alberta jobs in areas including artificial intelligence, data visualization, social innovation, and more."

-  Gail J. Powley, P.Eng - President, Technology Alberta

“The Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando) builds capacity in Indigenous community economic development by focusing on Canada’s fastest growing demographic, Indigenous youth. Engaging with youth not only impacts them personally, but also creates incredible positive change in their communities. Cando is proud to partner with PrairiesCan in the development of the Indigenous Coaching Program and the Economic Development Youth Summit. Both programs work in tandem to teach and inspire Indigenous youth to pursue careers in economic development, business development and entrepreneurship. These programs wouldn’t be possible without PrairiesCan’s partnership.”

-  Ray Wanuch, Executive Director, the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando)  

"Regional economic growth and innovation require a different kind of talent, future-fit talent. It requires people with deep competence who can be as nimble as the businesses they are working with need to be. In addition, companies need to be able to find that talent, quickly, so they can take advantage of growth opportunities. Through this funding, InceptionU will work directly with Prairie companies to develop and match talent, so these companies thrive." 

-  Margo Purcell, CEO and CoFounder, InceptionU

"As the co-chair of the Talent Development Task Force, I am thrilled to see our vision taking shape through strategic partnerships and funding support from PrairiesCan, Alberta Jobs, Economy & Trade, and Mitacs. Our core focus is to foster a robust culture of engagement, alignment, and coordination between Alberta's post-secondaries and the business community. This unique in Canada talent task force partnership is an Alberta-made solution to position the province for long term growth. We look forward to expanding the impact of our project in pursuit of our vision – for Alberta to lead North America in aligning post secondary training to the current and future needs of Alberta's business community.” 

 Shauna Feth, President and CEO, Alberta Chambers of Commerce

Quick facts

  • PrairiesCan funding for eleven Alberta organizations is being provided through its Community Economic Development and Diversification program; the Jobs and Growth Fund; and the Regional Innovation Ecosystems program.

  • The Community Economic Development and Diversification program supports economic development initiatives that contribute to the economic growth and diversification of communities across the Prairie provinces. Through this program, PrairiesCan enables communities to leverage their capacity and strengths to respond to economic development opportunities and adjust to changing and challenging economic circumstances.

  • The Jobs and Growth Fund provides businesses and organizations with either interest-free loans or non-repayable funding to help job creators and the organizations that support them to prepare for growth, build resiliency, enhance competitiveness, and create jobs. 

  • The Regional Innovation Ecosystems program creates, grows, and nurtures inclusive regional ecosystems that support what businesses need to innovate from start to finish and an environment where companies can innovate, grow, and compete.

  • The Building a Green Prairie Economy Act, based on the Private Members Bill C-235, championed by the late Honourable Jim Carr, received royal assent on December 15, 2022.

  • The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, was named under the Act to lead extensive consultations across the Prairies to inform the development of a Framework to be tabled in Parliament one year after royal assent of the Act. The Framework was tabled on December 8, 2023.

  • Progress reports will be tabled in Parliament in 2025 and every five years thereafter in accordance with the Act.

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Associated links


Carson Debert
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Northern Affairs and Minister responsible for PrairiesCan and CanNor

Rohit Sandhu
Communications Manager
Prairies Economic Development Canada

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