FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour will invest $609.9 million in 2016-17 to build and strengthen the province’s workforce.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Francine Landry made the announcement today while tabling departmental estimates.

“An educated, job-ready workforce is essential for moving our province forward,” Landry said. “By investing in post-secondary education, literacy, training and skills development, youth employment and population growth, we will build and create a highly educated and skilled workforce, attract new business and grow our economy.”

Among the department’s investments is $14.5 million for the Education and New Economy Fund, which will support a new tuition assistance program for students in greatest financial need.

The department, acting on a government commitment, will invest $2.4 million to develop and implement a comprehensive literacy strategy.

The department will launch the Experiential Learning and Employment Continuum to help social assistance clients acquire classroom and on-the-job training through employment placement.

“We expect the province will realize $3.2 million in savings in social assistance benefits through this program while helping families achieve a higher standard of living,” Landry said.

The department will invest an additional $2.9 million in the Youth Employment Fund to continue efforts in securing jobs, training and experience for youth. The fund has created almost 1,500 jobs to date.

The Population Growth Division will receive an additional $2 million to support increased immigration and help stakeholders settle Syrian refugees arriving in New Brunswick.