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Budget could benefit students seeking apprenticeships

By Suzanne Coolen

Originally posted February 14, 2014 at 11:02 am on

BELLEVILLE – A loan program included in Tuesday’s federal budget might give students better access to apprenticeships and internships, some Loyalist students say.

Mitch Duesling, an advertising student, says he has many friends who have expressed an interest in apprenticing but don’t have the financial means to do so.

“I know a lot of people who would like to do an apprenticeship but they don’t have the money or means to do it. I think providing interest-free loans would be beneficial,” said Duesling. “I would be interested in an internship if it was related to my field.

The federal government is planning to spend $100 million on interest-free loans through the Canada Apprentice Loan Program, which is an extension of the Canada Student Loans program. The government is also promising more money toward internships. Details of the new program will be released within the next few months.

Prospective Loyalist student Cindy Harrison, who was visiting the college Wednesday, said she thinks the loans are a good idea and she might look into an apprenticeship program if it involved a career suited to her. “When I think of apprenticing, trades come to mind,” Harrison said. “I would have to see a list of what was available.”

John McMahon, vice-president of academics at Loyalist, said he is pleased that the budget continues to focus on skills training.

“The government has made important investments to help promote training, such as the new loan to promote apprenticeship training,” McMahon said.

“In Ontario, the skills mismatch (workers overskilled or underskilled for the available jobs) costs the province as much as $24.3 billion a year in lost economic opportunity. Governments must work with businesses and educators to better align higher education and training with the demands of the new economy.”

But the Canadian Federation of Students says introducing loans will just add to student debt.

”The budget 2014’s solution to high youth unemployment is to shackle recent graduates and apprentices with even higher debt levels, while funding internships for less than one per cent of Canada’s currently unemployed youth,” Jessica McCormick, chairperson of the federation, said in a prepared statement.

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