Welding students from Vancouver Island University: funding is being doubled for programs that start trades training in high school.

‘Vocational school’ back in style in B.C.

Elementary and middle school will emphasize hands-on activities, and trades training in high school is going to double

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has rolled out its ambitious overhaul of the public education system, from kindergarten to graduate school, much to the horror of its left-wing establishment.

The formal title is B.C.’s Skills For Jobs Blueprint: Re-engineering Education and Training. It’s designed to dovetail with the Harper regime’s Canada Job Grant that requires employers to co-sponsor training spaces so they will hire the students at the end.

Elementary and middle school curriculum is being revised to increase emphasis on hands-on experience. High school and post-secondary skilled trades programs are getting more money, but it’s going to be shifted from under-performing programs that don’t lead to jobs.

Premier Christy Clark took another swipe at the bias of B.C.’s system before heading to Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong on another liquefied natural gas sales trip. She noted that 20% of B.C. students, and nearly half of aboriginal students, don’t finish high school.

“Not only are there kids who don’t graduate, there are kids who graduate, go out and get one or two credentials before they finally find their way into a skills training program,” said Clark, who had her own wander through university campuses before going into politics.

A couple of weeks ago, Simon Fraser University president Andrew Petter downplayed the “relatively small” skilled trades shortage for B.C. industry.

“We should not be engaged in a zero-sum kind of battle for dollars,” Petter protested. That’s exactly what he and other university executives are looking at, and it will be based on the latest graduate employment data and labour demand forecasts.

One of the key architects of this sweeping plan is Jessica McDonald, who shook up the public service while serving as Gordon Campbell’s deputy minister.

Her report on trades training confirms what Campbell’s critics in the labour movement have long said: the government’s 10-year experiment with the Industry Training Authority is a rudderless mess.

“Certain partners, particularly organized labour, feel marginalized,” McDonald wrote. “Others, particularly employers and employers’ associations, do not feel heard within the system. Over the recent past, several new directions have been introduced such as de-regulation of trades and modular training that have caused strain because they were not fully inclusive during development, were seen to benefit single interests, and they impacted the whole system.”

The ITA board is being replaced, with union representation restored, and advisory councils from industrial employers will update their hiring needs.

The B.C. Federation of Labour and the construction unions have all but abandoned the NDP after Adrian Dix’s disastrous pitch for urban anti-industry votes last year. B.C. Fed president Jim Sinclair was an early advocate for rescuing skilled trades from the second-class status they received in a culture fixated on university for two generations.

That culture has created glaring problems. There are too many institutions offering the same courses. As with health care, block funding is handed out without any serious effort to measure the results. For many students, university has become an extension of adolescence, finding one’s self through philosophy or film studies.

Employers get their share of blame from McDonald. Not only did they chop up trades training to make it cheaper to obtain, their preferred source of skilled workers has been to poach from other employers who paid to train them.

Skills-based employment data will be made public for students to make career choices. Finally, students coming out of high school will have a way to assess what they can expect after $50,000 or more is spent on higher education.

It’s about time.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

VicPD seek witnesses to the assault of a youth

On March 24 three men with a white van accosted a youth walking on Dallas Road

Team Canada athletes training at CFB Esquimalt for 2019 Warrior Games

Games enhance the recovery of ill and injured soldiers

No apologies for telling the hard stories

Community news platforms must be more than a community calendar

Coroner’s inquest announced for Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Time to get tough on derelict boat owners

Hefty fines and penalties may make people think twice

The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

The announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service

Island Health announces funding for 52 projects on Island

$750,000 will go to fund these projects

POLL: Do you still have a landline telephone?

With smart phones becoming an indispensable part of modern-day life, more and… Continue reading

UPDATED: Three dead in Surrey crash: police

Single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., police remain on-scene

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Military officer accused of sexual misconduct, drunkenness in B.C., Alberta

Warrant Officer Jarvis Kevin Malone is charged under the National Defence Act

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

Most Read