Access to skills training and post-secondary education needs to be budget priority

February 23, 2012 | News Releases

PORT MOODY - B.C. New Democrat leader Adrian Dix joined Port Moody-Coquitlam BC NDP candidate Joe Trasolini Thursday to demand budget revisions to make skills training and post-secondary education opportunities for British Columbians a priority.

“Without a skilled labour force, B.C.’s economic competitiveness and growth in the near and long term is at serious risk.

“However, the Premier and her Finance Minister are choosing to spend $15 million on advertising Christy Clark’s jobs plan, rather than investing those monies in post-secondary and skills training to stimulate employment and job growth.

“At the very time the government’s own labour market forecast shows how our province is facing a shortage of 61,500 workers - the budget, as currently written by Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon – is cutting skills training, apprenticeships, and takes no action to improve access and completion rates for post-secondary education,” said Dix.

Though close to 80 per cent of jobs this decade and next will require post-secondary education, the Liberals’ budget cuts funding for colleges and universities, as well as the Industry Training Authority which oversees apprenticeship programs.

This disinvestment follows a host of business groups warning that a growing shortage of highly skilled workers threatens B.C.’s economy.

“For example, last week the Canadian Chamber of Commerce identified the looming skills shortage as one of the top risks to the economy,” said Dix.

In recent papers about our province’s labour market needs, the B.C. Business Council has advocated for policies that help young adults attain some level of post-secondary training to mitigate a serious shortfall in talented, highly skilled workers.

Port Moody NDP by-election candidate Joe Trasolini urged the Liberals' Minister for Advanced Education Naomi Yamamoto to press for changes at the cabinet table so post-secondary takes precedence over government advertising.

“I am knocking on doors every day in Port Moody. I am encountering too many young people, and their parents, who are feeling the burden of tuition fee increases that have escalated over the decade of BC Liberal government. They are either hesitating from pursuing advanced education, or assuming debt at a time in their lives when they can least afford it. In many cases, the growing debt causes students to prolong, disrupt or abandon their studies," said Trasolini.

“This by-election in Port Moody-Coquiltam is a very good way to send the message that improving access to skills training and post-secondary should be a priority right now over government advertising," said Dix.