Dix makes commitment to a skilled workforce

April 17, 2013 | News Releases

Abbotsford, BC – BC NDP leader Adrian Dix announced today that an NDP government will invest $40 million in skills training and $100 million in a student grants program annually as he released the NDP’s plan for jobs, growth, and a thriving middle class.

“If we fail to act, the growing skills shortage facing BC will hamstring our economy and hurt the private sector’s ability to increase productivity and create jobs,” said Dix. “And the inequality that plagues BC—already the worst in Canada—will only get worse.

“We need a new approach to jobs and the economy, with education and skills training at its heart, to give British Columbians ladders of opportunity into a vibrant middle class. That way, we can grow the economy, create jobs and reduce inequality.

“I’m confirming today that a BC NDP government will improve the affordability of college and university with the practical step of creating a $100 million needs-based, non-repayable grant program for post-secondary and skills training students.”

Though eighty per cent of new job openings will require skills training and post-secondary education, the recent BC Liberal budget cut funding for post-secondary education and training. At the same time, the government was spending millions on taxpayer funded ads about training. The BC Liberal government has also caused BC’s apprenticeship completion rates to fall to amongst the worst in Canada.

“I’ve met with hundreds of business people in the past two years and the consistent message I hear is that they cannot find the skilled workers they need to take advantage of opportunities to grow,” said Dix.

“A BC NDP government will invest in BC’s skills training and apprenticeship system to increase training spaces, shorten completion times and improve completion rates.”

Dix also committed to developing targeted programs to increase northern, First Nations and women’s participation in the skilled trades, and to include business and labour as full partners in BC’s apprenticeship system.

“When we fail to provide young people with the education and skills they need, we are depriving them of opportunities,” said Dix. “And, we are depriving businesses of the workforce they need to increase productivity, create jobs, and grow the economy.”

Dix also said a New Democrat government would make a one-time investment of $20 million in a scholarship fund, and we will invite private sector and community-based partners to match our funds.

Additional steps announced in the NDPs jobs and economy platform include:

  • measures to help small business thrive;
  • green and high-tech job initiatives;
  • measures to support the creative economy and tourism industry;
  • expanding Buy BC and establishing local buying priorities for government procurement; and
  • improvements to processes for recognizing new immigrants’ credentials.

    In the coming days, Dix will set out additional platform components aimed at jobs, growth and a thriving middle class, centred on BC’s resource sectors.

    Consistent with Dix’s commitment to maintain tax competitiveness and show clearly how we will pay for our commitments, the announcements made today are fully costed in the BC NDP’s fiscal plan. The costs are $87 million in 2013-14, $172 million in 2014-15, and $226 million in 2015-16.