By Peter Fassbender
Minister of Education
VICTORIA - In B.C., a million job openings are expected by 2022. Fully 43% of those jobs will require skilled workers, and some areas of the province are already experiencing shortages of skilled workers.
To meet labour demand, we'll need many more young people to enter skilled trades and technology fields. As a government, we're working hard to meet that goal by expanding pathways to graduation and exploring new ways of getting more students and their parents excited about careers in trades and technology fields.
We've developed "B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: Re-engineering Education and Training" which was released late last month.
An over-arching goal of the Blueprint plan is to ensure that every youth in B.C. gets a head start to hands-on learning and is able to capitalize on the exciting new career opportunities most needed by our growing economy. Another goal is to see a shift in education and training to better match jobs in demand now and in the future. And finally, we want to build stronger partnerships with industry, labour and communities to deliver training and apprenticeships.
In our K-12 school system, we're already making significant progress in a number of key areas.
A superintendent for careers and student transitions has been appointed to help districts develop and expand partnerships with local industry, businesses and post-secondary institutions
We plan to double the number of ACE-IT training spaces to 5,000 over the next two years. We also want to increase the number of employer partnerships that provide job-readiness skills and practical learning opportunities for youth.
Throughout B.C., individual school districts are undertaking innovative programs to get students excited and make them more aware of trades and technology careers at a younger age. To provide further support, the ministry recently introduced a Skills Exploration course for grades 10-12. The course is designed to give students valuable hands-on experience in important trade sectors and an introduction to core skills common to many trades. Government will also fund apprenticeship trades ambassadors and new online resources to better promote career options and pathways to parents and students.
There's also new flexibility for school districts to apply provincial funding to scholarships and awards related to trades and technical training. This year, one non-instructional day (Pro-D) in every school district has been dedicated to skills, trades and apprenticeship training for students, and this will be repeated during the next school year.
If we can get more young people and parents excited about career opportunities and skills training, and change existing perceptions about "blue collar" work, we'll ensure more of our young people are first in line for the jobs of the future. Thousands of those jobs will be in B.C.'s emerging LNG sector, which promises enormous job growth and a generational opportunity to improve the state of B.C's economy and the lives of the people who live here. However, we know that there will be many other sectors that will require skilled individuals.
All of us will benefit as we work together to build an ever-increasing skilled workforce and more of today's students pursue skilled trades and technology careers that meet the labour needs of a growing and prosperous British Columbia.