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

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

Most Read