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U.S. expert recommends boosting apprenticeships in Canada in new report

OTTAWA - 1A respected U.S. labour expert says governments, educators and employers should work together to boost the number of apprenticeships for young Canadians.

Robert Lerman's report, commissioned by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives says such a collaborative approach would yield significant payoffs for young Canadians, employers and taxpayers.

The report, obtained by The Canadian Press, says a comprehensive expansion of apprenticeships would provide young people with greater opportunities for more promising careers and potentially slash the rate of youth unemployment.

The study also asserts that apprenticeships aren't just a route to jobs in the skilled trades, but could represent an option for young Canadians in a variety of fields.

It says apprenticeships should become a common recruitment strategy for a wide range of industries and sectors, such as banking, sales and information technology.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney recently lead a Canadian delegation to Germany and Great Britain to study their apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships were also a key plank of the government's 2014 budget, in particular the announcement of the $100-million Canada Apprentice Loan. That fund will provide apprentices in so-called Red Seal trades with access to interest-free loans to help them pay for their training.

Amid a Conservative focus on apprenticeships, stakeholders have said they're mystified that the government's mammoth new infrastructure project, the New Building Canada Plan, doesn't contain any provisions for apprentices.

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