Ontario’s Liberal government has announced initiatives designed to bolster participation in apprenticeship programs. Three apprenticeship programs are designed to will help more young people succeed in today’s knowledge-based economy, Mary Anne Chambers, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, announced today. "Improving access to apprenticeship training strengthens our ability to respond to increasing demand for skilled workers and keeps our economy strong and competitive," said Chambers. "An Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit would be a cornerstone of our plan to increase both the quality and quantity of skilled labour, including trades people, in this province," said Greg Sorbara, Minister of Finance. "Our investment in apprenticeship will address the expected wave of retirements in skilled trades, and help build a strong and prosperous economy." To strengthen the apprenticeship system, the Ontario government is: –Creating 1,500 scholarships of $1,000 each to high school students who had quit school, then returned to complete high school and enter apprenticeships, and a $2,000 bonus for employers to encourage them to hire these young people into skilled trades; –Investing up to $6 million in 2004-05 to create new Co-op Diploma Apprenticeship Programs that will enable young people to train as apprentices in a specific trade while obtaining an associated college diploma; and –Developing an Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit that, if passed by the legislature, would provide refundable tax credits for employers on a portion of the salaries and wages paid to eligible apprentices. The programs announced today are part of the Ontario government’s four-year strategy to transform the skills training and apprenticeship system and complement the annual investment of $11.7 million, by 2006-07, which will expand the number of people registered in apprenticeships to 26,000 by the following year.