VICTORIA – The Liberal government still refuses to invest in new skills training and apprenticeship programs despite an “immediate shortage” of a skilled workers for the construction industry in B.C., say the New Democrats.
“Earlier this week a B.C. delegation went to California to find workers for construction in the north because there aren’t enough people ready with the appropriate training here,” said Gwen O’Mahony, New Democrat critic for skills training. “We don’t have those skilled workers ready because beginning in 2004, the Liberals dismantled B.C.’s trades training and apprenticeship system.”
Vice-President of JJM Construction Dee Miller said in a release earlier this week, “Projects don’t get built without a highly skilled workforce, so traveling to California with the [B.C. Construction Association] team is an easy decision for us.”
Abigail Fulton, Vice President of the B.C. Construction Association said, “We are not taking away jobs from people here at home. We’re looking for very specific skills and experience. There’s an immediate shortage and we expect that to continue.”
Similar delegations from British Columbia have gone to Ireland looking for skilled workers as well.
O’Mahony said it is hard to take the Liberal government seriously when they can find millions for pre-election style jobs plan ads, but nothing for apprenticeship and skills training programs. “Despite their ‘jobs plan,’ the Liberals have put no new money into skills training in the 2012 budget. It’s no surprise that apprenticeship completion rates have fallen from 43 to 37 per cent from 2009/10 to 2011/12. This year is on track to be even worse, at just 35 per cent to date,” said O’Mahony.
O’Mahony said post-secondary education and skills training are critical to B.C.'s economy, and New Democrats have a plan to improve access to post-secondary education and trades training by offering $100 million in needs-based, non-repayable student grants.
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats are committed to change for the better, by modernizing and improving B.C.’s skills training system to offer ladders of opportunity, build a stronger economy and reduce inequality.