Employers in three provinces can now apply for skills training funds under the Canada Job Grant, nearly 18 months after the Conservatives introduced it with much fanfare in the 2013 budget.

The government of Manitoba was the first to accept applications last month, with P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador following suit on Tuesday.

Under an extension worked out in the spring, provinces and territories had until July 1 to deliver the grant, a centrepiece proposal of the government's efforts to match Canadians' skills with open jobs.

A government official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, told CBC News that at this stage Ottawa expects different provinces will implement the grant on different dates, but that both levels of government are working to deliver the grant "as soon as possible."

Other provinces told CBC News in June they expect to have the grant in place by the end of the summer or beginning of fall.

The Canada Job Grant provides up to $15,000 in skills training to help workers land a new or better job. The grant covers the costs of tuition, textbooks, software and other training materials.

The federal government will provide up to $10,000 per worker, with employers kicking in up to $5,000.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney touted the grant as a win-win for both levels of government after he reached a deal with the provinces in February following several months of intense negotiations.

Training is a provincial responsibility, but the federal government provides funding — and the Conservative government wanted to redirect some of that funding to address a perceived skills gap that is blamed for labour shortages in parts of the country.

Kenney had to sweeten the deal by removing the cost-matching requirement for the provinces, which meant doubling the initial federal contribution of $5,000. He made other concessions to give the provinces more flexibility in delivering the grant.

"The Canada Job Grant is part of our commitment to address the paradox of too many Canadians without jobs in an economy of too many jobs without Canadians," Kenney said in a statement Tuesday to mark the program's debut in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

"With employers' skin in the game, the Canada Job Grant will lead to a guaranteed job. Helping employers train Canadians for jobs that need to be filled will help their businesses grow and succeed."