British Columbians aged 55 and older are getting opportunities to build skills for new careers, with training programs that break down barriers to employment for older workers.
“Skills training and employment supports for older workers are key ingredients to building a more diverse workforce and accessing the untapped potential in people, while making sure no one is left behind,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “By opening doors to employment for those who need it most, we’re lifting up communities, so everyone can access good-paying jobs and be part of building the best B.C.”
While celebrating the graduation of an Encore Careers program cohort at Douglas College, Mark announced $5 million in annual provincewide funding to provide skills training to 733 people aged 55 and older. The college is one of 17 service providers throughout the province offering locally designed programs over two years.
“With a changing economy, programs like Encore will provide opportunities for workers aged 55+ to get the training that they need to change careers,” said Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission. “And, for the workers who are taking advantage of this program, I want to give them credit for their hard work and determination.”
Older workers can face barriers to employment, including a lack of technical skills and training opportunities, and an unfamiliarity with current hiring practices. Government is taking action to support vulnerable British Columbians and those who need support to build a new skill set to re-enter the workforce or transition careers.
Over two years, Douglas College will receive $814,185 to provide 120 learners with Encore Careers training at locations in Maple Ridge, Burnaby and Coquitlam. The program provides learners with short-term certificates, digital literacy training and coaching for self-employment or consultancy. Supports can include job placement, Indigenous cultural components, disability supports, transportation and work gear.
“The Douglas College community includes people of all ages, and we’re pleased to provide programming that supports older British Columbians with improved opportunities for meaningful and rewarding employment,” said Kathy Denton, president, Douglas College. “Supportive and appropriate learning environments help us to foster lifelong learning in our communities.”
Throughout B.C., training in areas like accounting, transportation, health care and computer skills will prepare learners to work in a range of industries. Employment supports may include counselling, mentoring, transportation, disability supports, work experience, wage subsidies and equipment.
British Columbians are living longer, and people over 55 are an important part of the province’s labour force. According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey results for October 2019, there were 756,900 people 55 and older in B.C. Of these, 589,500 were working, and the unemployment rate (the percentage seeking work) was 3.7%.
- Skills Training for Employment (STE) – Older Workers 55+ is one of five STE programs.
- STE programs are funded through the Canada-B.C. Workforce Development Agreement (WDA).
- Signed in 2018, the WDA provides $685 million over six years and flexibility to design and deliver locally driven, responsive and inclusive labour market programming for British Columbians.
- The 2018 Labour Market Outlook projected approximately 900,000 job openings throughout B.C. between now and 2028, with 77% of those jobs requiring some level of post-secondary education or training.
Work BC – jobs, education and career information: www.workbc.ca
Skills training for employment programs: www.workbc.ca/skillstraining-employment
Douglas College training group: https://www.douglascollege.ca/programs-courses/training-group