B.C. Liberal skills training failures continue to hurt B.C. workers and employers

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VICTORIA – Northern B.C. employers sending another delegation to Ireland looking for skilled workers to fill jobs in B.C. is an indictment of the B.C. Liberal government’s failure to get serious about skills training, say New Democrats.

“While business groups are forced to go to Ireland to find welders, the College of New Caledonia in Burns Lake had to lay off their welding instructors and shutter their welding program because they were denied funding, leaving 16 eager workers without access to the training that local employers are looking for,” said New Democrat skills training critic Doug Routley.

“We need more skilled workers than ever, but the B.C. Liberals continue to flatline the Industry Training Authority and cut colleges, universities and technical institutions, making it harder for students to get the skills they need.”

Routley noted that provincial funding for the Industry Training Authority has been flat since 2010, despite a growing skills shortage that is holding back B.C. businesses and leaving B.C. workers without the skills they need to succeed.

“The Liberals spent millions on jobs plan advertising instead of investing in our skills training system so that local workers have the skills to fill local jobs,” said Routley. “They have also failed to get serious about addressing our abysmal trades training completion rate, which has been below 45 per cent ever since the B.C. Liberals blew up our apprenticeship system in 2002.”

The delegation, called the Western Canada Construction Job Expo, will be In Ireland on Oct. 31 to find skilled workers for the mining, oil and gas and construction sectors. This is the second time that they have gone to Ireland to fill jobs in B.C. communities, despite the fact that the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high in the Nechako region.

“The Liberal government knows well that there have been problems finding skilled workers in these industries in the past,” said Routley. “Yet, they are more concerned about finding ways to cut the provincial budget in order to live up to their bogus budget election claims than taking action to address the growing skills shortage.”

The government’s own documents show that up to 80 per cent of new jobs created in this decade will require some form of post-secondary education or trades training.

“The B.C. Liberals’ jobs plan has failed on every level. It’s failed to create new jobs, and it’s failed to train local workers to fill the jobs that are available,” said Routley. “It’s time for the government to get serious about making investments in skills training so that B.C. workers are the first in line to fill B.C. jobs.”