B.C. Liberal incompetence undermining skills training: NDP

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CHAOS in the Ministry of Advanced Education is contributing to Christy Clark’s failures on employment said New Democrat Advanced Education Critic David Eby on Tuesday.

Up to $8 million dollars in cuts are coming to the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), $5 million in cuts are coming to Camosun College, and more than $800,000 in cuts are coming to Selkirk college at a time when British Columbians are in dire need of skills training.

“Last week we learned that the B.C. Liberal government is secretly supporting massive cuts to English as a second language programs delivered at B.C. colleges and universities, and they have no answers about how students will access basic English training, after April 1,” said Eby.

“This week we learn that massive cuts are also threatening the ability of colleges in British Columbia like BCIT to train British Columbians. These cuts mean just one thing: B.C. residents are going to be out of luck in the job market in this province. Employers are setting up more job recruitment fairs in Ireland, even as B.C. residents suffer from some of the worst employment numbers in the country because this government doesn’t care about training and employing British Columbians.”

BCIT has now acknowledged it is looking at cutting $7 to $8 million dollars from its budget. BCIT was already suffering from massive backlogs in highly demanded training programs like ship building training programs that will help B.C. residents access federal ship building jobs awarded to the province. Instead of dedicating money to increase capacity in B.C.’s college training programs, the provincial government budgeted $1m in the last budget to advertise the importance of skills training despite multi-year wait lists.

“It’s disconcerting that the B.C. Liberals seem reluctant to award contracts to build our ferries here at home, but perhaps it’s because they don’t want to expose the mess they are making of our skills training system,” said Eby.

Colleges and universities are currently cutting programs to meet a $40 million cut announced in the last budget. Combined with frozen core funding for the last 10 years, maintenance cuts, hydro rate increases and the core review process, the end result has been traumatic for school planning and training of B.C. residents.

“With nine ministers in the last ten years on the post-secondary file it’s clear that this government doesn’t understand that an educated and skilled population is the most important currency we have in the 21st century economy,” said Eby. “Instead of investing in our reputation and in our people, this government is undermining our ability to attract investment and increase employment.”