Even the government admits the Skills for Jobs Blueprint needs work
In 2014, the BC provincial government introduced the Skills for Jobs Blueprint, a plan to drive funding to training programs for in-demand occupations. Using labour market data, the government claimed, the Blueprint would help post-secondary institutions make smarter decisions, and better prepare students for the job market.
Blueprint is built on the premise that there would be 1 million jobs in the energy sector by 2022. It mostly restricted funding to specialized, targeted post-secondary programs that prepare youth for jobs as welders, pipefitters, and heavy equipment operators. In essence, the BC Jobs Plan and the government’s education strategy put all their eggs in one basket: the LNG sector.
Almost three years later, Premier Christy Clark told reporters that her jobs plan missed targets. The jobs haven’t been created. Now recent grads are trained for work they can’t get.
As George Davidson, president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC, wrote in the Vancouver Sun last April, “The Blueprint is about feeding Premier Clark’s fantasy fund. It was designed to support the 100,000 jobs we were told would manifest out of LNG. The jobs aren’t there. The LNG isn’t there. The dream was a bust, and so is the Blueprint.”
The shortfall has disproportionately affected some BC communities more than others:
“It has meant rural communities haven’t had all the same opportunities that urban communities have had,” Premier Clark noted.
Now the government is pivoting and directing their resources to innovation and technology, but they aren’t increasing overall funding to higher learning. By positioning education as only a means to stoke the fires of the economy, the Skills for Jobs Blueprint has limited course choices and compromised the quality of education for students whose programs don’t fit into the BC Jobs Plan. Continued cuts to funding mean costs related to post-secondary are so high, more and more students in BC can’t afford to go to school.
Post-secondary education is about more than the jobs the government has chosen for students.
Trades training is important, but we also need a fully funded, accessible, and diverse post-secondary education system that prepares people for the challenges of tomorrow and beyond. We need colleges and university programs to expand students’ minds and equip them with learning strategies and analytical skills.
Education isn’t for industry, and education shouldn’t be an industry. Tell your MLA to increase funding to all programs and public institutions. Email or call now and tell them it’s time to the open the doors.
You can let the BC government know how important this issue is by adding your name along with thousands of other British Columbians who are pledging to vote for post-secondary education. There’s an election coming up on May 9th, and we need a change for BC students.