Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment is committed to supporting the development of an educated, skilled and trained northern workforce. As stated in the Economic Outlook 2014-15 report, we have an incredible future with a potential for more than 4.5 billion dollars in new investment in the NWT planned over the next several years. With these investments come many new jobs and opportunities.
The Northwest Territories Nominee Program is a key component of the GNWT’s efforts to attract 2,000 new residents by 2019. ECE has set a target of increasing the number of nominees by 25 percent annually starting in 2014-15.
Work to enhance our Nominee Program has already begun. We will be clarifying the nominee application process, improving the forms and access to online information and promoting and improving awareness of the program.
We will be engaging our many partners in the coming weeks to ensure the program meets the needs of the business community and ready for implementation in January 2015.
Mr. Speaker, another of our ECE programs contributing to the GNWT’s population growth work is our Student Financial Assistance program. ECE is presently considering options for enhancing the remission and repayment program to reduce students’ debt much faster. We believe such improvements will encourage our students to return to the NWT and potentially encourage more southern students to come to the NWT.
As well, Mr. Speaker, due to the improved nature of collecting and sharing information from students, the GNWT is able to review the skill sets of Northern students studying at post-secondary institutions and match them with meaningful and rewarding jobs with our government.
We believe these improvements will contribute both to the success of our economy and help grow the NWT’s population.
ECE remains committed to delivering effective labour market programs that achieve results and respond to residents’ needs. We are doing detailed assessments of the North’s current and future labour market needs across all sectors so that we have relevant labour market information. This initiative will examine skills-training and post-secondary education systems and complete the entire spectrum of services from early childhood to employment. It will provide us with valuable information on which we can base our future investments and decisions as a government.
Mr. Speaker, this is work no one can accomplish alone. I believe we can achieve our goals by working together – across government, through our valuable partnerships, and with businesses and the public. We are excited to be contributing to the future, and are in it for the long haul.
Masi, Mr. Speaker.