When it first launched on Nov. 8, 2021, the goal of Retrain Manitoba was to encourage Manitoba businesses, not-for-profits, or charities of any size to invest in their workforce, move past the pandemic and into economic recovery. The $12.5 million-dollar initiative was supported by the Province of Manitoba and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and administered by Economic Development Winnipeg. The program was tremendous hit with businesses.

“We’re thrilled to see that so many Manitoba businesses took advantage of the Retrain Manitoba program,” says Dayna Spiring, President & CEO, Economic Development Winnipeg. “We’ve heard from business leaders who say this funding has given them the flexibility to not only pursue training or upskilling for employees, but recruit and train new employees. I’m confident that this program has put businesses in a strong position for growth as we move past the pandemic.”

Businesses or organizations needed to have a valid business number and be in good standing with the Manitoba Companies Office to register on the Retrain Manitoba website for reimbursement on training or upskilling of their workforce. They could receive up to $2,500 per employee up to a maximum of $75,000 per company. Applications were on a first-come, first-served basis until March 31, 2022, or until the funds had all been allocated. The uptake by companies across the province was so high, by February 4, 2022, the fund was fully exhausted.

Professional development for thousands of Manitobans

1,365 Manitoba businesses received reimbursements to train or upskill 18,086 employees through a wide range of courses including in-person, online and industry-recognized courses by third-party trainers. Of the 1,365 businesses, 87 per cent were small businesses (with 0 to 99 employees).

Funding went to businesses across every sector and industry across Manitoba to support training in a variety of skills. Some of those businesses that tapped into funding were in some of the hardest-hit sectors; tourism and hospitality.

For Festival du Voyageur (FDV), the funding meant it could use the downtime of the off-season to reassess future event plans and invest in its staff for the festival’s future success.

“We recognized Retrain Manitoba was an opportunity to invest in necessary employee training during this period,” says FDV’s Finance Manager, Marjorie Grainville.

“The training they received will certainly help in this year’s FDV’s return to live events model. For example, more of our permanent staff are now trained in first aid training, food handling safety and conflict resolution.”

The support Retrain Manitoba provided for Manitobans will help improve our economy through enhancing our province’s talent.

“The pandemic has been hard for many Manitoba businesses as well as employees, and the uptake for this program has been tremendous,” says Manitoba Economic Development, Investment and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen. “This program also aligns with the implementation of our Skills, Talent and Knowledge Strategy, and will help employees gain the skills they need to be successful and support economic growth in the province.”

“As we round the corner into pandemic economic recovery and restrictions are lifting, Manitoba organizations are ramping up, while adopting new technology, and accommodating shifting consumer preferences,” says Chuck Davidson, President & CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. “Retrain Manitoba was designed to support our province’s workforce in adapting to profound changes hastened by the pandemic, while enabling Manitoba’s workforce to upskill and reskill to meet new needs. We are thrilled with the program’s success, especially among SMEs, as a valuable, long-term investment in an agile, highly-skilled workforce.”

While companies can no longer access Retrain Manitoba funding, if they are looking for more advice and support to help upskill or train their workforce, they can visit EDW’s winnipegtalenthub.com.