Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its mandate to close the skills gap by strengthening the apprenticeship program. Later today, I will be tabling the Apprenticeship, Trades and Occupational Certification Strategy 2017-2022. Mr. Speaker, this five-year strategy outlines how the Government of the Northwest Territories will strengthen our apprenticeship and occupational certification program. Since the program began, there have been approximately 4,700 apprentices certified, and today there are more than 400 men and women employed in 27 occupations and 53 trades working in the Northwest Territories.
Building on the Skills 4 Success Strategy, we will increase skill levels through relevant education and training. There will be a stronger connection to the secondary education system through the Schools North Apprenticeship Program and Career and Technology Studies and to post-secondary education through programs offered by Aurora College. We will bridge education and employment gaps through targeted supports. We will be more closely connecting industry and employers with students and apprentices through the partnerships we have in education, training, and the Skills 4 Success Strategy. We will also be implementing incentives for employers to hire apprentices, and we will be encouraging target groups, like Indigenous residents and women, to consider a career in the trades.
Our partnerships are the key to everything we are able to accomplish, so we will grow the northern workforce through partnerships and collaboration. This involves working with the Apprenticeship, Trades and Occupation Certification Board, industry, education, and business partnerships, and streamlining sponsorship programs. Additionally, we will improve decision-making with relevant labour market information. We have the best information we have ever had, through the reports developed by the Conference Board of Canada, the Northwest Territories Labour Market Forecast and Needs Assessment, the Labour Market Information Resource and companion document, the Northwest Territories Jobs in Demand: 15-Year Forecast. This gives us comprehensive information on the jobs that will be needed in the coming years and allows us to target the education, training, and skills development programs to meet the labour market needs.
Mr. Speaker, over the next 15 years, it is forecasted that there will be more than 36,000 job openings in the Northwest Territories, and approximately 2,500 of those will be trades-related. Apprentices gain valuable training they can carry with them through their entire life, and do it through a unique form of education where they not only learn skills in an academic setting but also learn in a practical, work-based environment. The NWT Apprenticeship, Trades and Occupational Certification Strategy, aligned with the Skills 4 Success Strategy, provides a roadmap to plan our future. The many stakeholders and partners who provided valuable input and guidance into this strategy will be key to its success. This strategy would not have been possible without their in-depth knowledge, and it will allow us to build a future for the North together, to ensure our continued prosperity and competitiveness. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.