BY RUSSELL HIXSON - The B.C. government is investing $6.8 million towards critical trades seats for public post-secondary institutions in the province.
The funding was announced on July 31 as part of B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint to increase training spaces and reduce wait times in trades critical to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) sector and other industries.
"Our government is delivering on our commitment in the blueprint to fund critical trades' seats. Our strategic investment in a trained workforce that will be ready for jobs in the Liquefied Natural Gas and other industries means long-term, well-paying jobs that strengthen our families and communities," said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, in a press release.
The funding is expected to create 1,424 foundation and apprenticeship seats at 14 public post-secondary institutions in B.C. by September.
The new seats are projected to reduce the top 12 LNG-related trades occupation waitlists by 37 per cent overall.
This means that student wait times will be reduced by an average of more than eight months.
For example, wait times for the electrical program at Vancouver Island University and Northern Lights College are expected to be reduced by 12 months.
The government initially announced $6.6 million for critical trades seats as part of B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint on April 29.
Funding allocations are based on the most-recent labour market data, on consultations with institutions, the Industry Training Authority and the province's Labour Market Priorities Board, as well as institutions' current waitlists and capacity to add training seats.
According to government projections, one million job openings are expected in B.C. by 2022, with about 43 per cent requiring college education or apprenticeship training.
B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint is the province's plan to adjust its education and training systems to ensure British Columbians are first in line for those jobs.
$1.35 million of the funding was announced days before when Bond visited B.C. Institute of Technology in Burnaby.
It received the most extra funding of any school in province.
The funds will add 272 seats to the school, increasing its capacity by 4.0 per cent.
Officials expect that adding 1,424 critical trades seats, including 889 foundation and 535 apprenticeship seats, at the schools will reduce the total LNG-critical trades waitlist by almost one-third.
Foundation seats are for pre-employment courses and typically last about nine months.
While not a prerequisite for apprenticeships, the foundation seats can help students become work-ready and more attractive to a prospective employer.
B.C. Ministry of Jobs top 12 LNG trades:
Steam / pipefitters
Heavy equipment operators
Sheet metal workers
Heavy-duty equipment mechanics