Friday March 30, 2012

BC Politics

Educating the Opposition

Meeting the province's labour needs through educational opportunities

Released by the Michael Roy, BC NDP


Chilliwack-Hope by-election candidate Gwen O'Mahoney is flanked by party leader Adrian Dix and FVRD Director Dannis Adamson.


nsuring British Columbians receive access to skills training and post-secondary education needs to be a government priority, said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix and Chilliwack-Hope NDP candidate Gwen O’Mahony today at the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley.

“Without a skilled labour force, B.C.’s economic competitiveness and growth in the near and long term is at serious risk.

“The Liberal government’s own labour market forecast shows how our province is facing a shortage of 61,500 workers. But in their latest budget, the Liberals are cutting support for trades training and advanced education, instead of improving access to post-secondary institutions such as University of the Fraser Valley (UFV),” said Dix.

The budget cuts post-secondary funding by $70 million in the next two fiscal cycles. A letter authored and signed by 25 university and college presidents, including UFV president Mark Evered, points out that it is troubling that advanced education is receiving an absolute budget reduction: “it is unrealistic to assume that the reductions contemplated by Budget 2012 can be achieved without implications for service levels,” reads the letter.

This disinvestment follows a host of business groups warning that a growing shortage of highly skilled workers threatens B.C.’s economy.

“For example, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce identified the looming skills shortage as one of the top risks to the economy;” said Dix.

In recent papers about our province’s labour market needs, the B.C. Business Council has advocated for policies that help young adults attain some level of post-secondary training to mitigate a serious shortfall in talented, highly skilled workers.

“That is why Adrian Dix’s proposal for non refundable student grants, financed by a minimum tax on major financial institutions, is prudent,” said O’Mahony.

O’Mahony shared how she is hearing from people on the doorstep how access to advanced education is a major concern.

“I am knocking on doors every day in Chilliwack. Many young people and their families are feeling the burden of tuition fee increases that have escalated over this past decade under this Liberal government. These young people are either hesitating from pursuing advanced education, or assuming debt at a time in their lives when they can least afford it. In many cases, the growing debt causes students to prolong, disrupt or abandon their studies," stressed O’Mahony.

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