The Province’s new StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan will help thousands of people get the skills they need to succeed in the changing economy and help close the skills gap many businesses are facing.
“Our economy is growing and innovating quickly,” said Premier David Eby. “Work is transforming, and we have more job openings than skilled people. That’s why we are taking action to make sure people are ready to seize new opportunities and build a good life here in BC, and businesses are able find the people who drive our economy forward and deliver the services we all rely on.”
The action plan is focused on five pillars:
- making post-secondary education more affordable, accessible and relevant to British Columbians;
- helping people reskill to find in-demand jobs so more employers facing current and future skills shortages can find the people they need;
- breaking down barriers so everyone can find a job where they can thrive;
- addressing Indigenous Peoples’ workforce priorities; and
- ensuring people new to BC find a career in the field in which they are trained.
“Every action in Future Ready is designed to take on the challenges of today, to build a better future for people and a stronger economy,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “Together, we are building a future in BC where people are able to acquire the skills and find the opportunities they need to thrive, and employers are able to find the people they need to sustain and grow their businesses.”
The $480-million action plan is highlighted by a future skills grant of up to $3,500. This grant will cover the cost of training for in-demand jobs. Beginning in September 2023, the grant will be available to British Columbians, making it easier for people to select from more than 400 eligible training opportunities at post-secondary institutions throughout BC for the most in-demand jobs in areas such as construction, tech, housing and clean energy. For employers, this means some 8,500 newly trained people over the next three years will become skilled and ready to fill positions and address the skills gap.
“I’m hearing from businesses, small and large, that finding skilled labour is one of their biggest challenges,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “That’s exactly what this initiative will address. It will ensure businesses have access to a skilled and diverse talent pool, now and into the future. Good jobs are good for workers and for businesses. By working together, we can build a better future for BC.”
The Province is also introducing rapid response training, which will support delivery of short-term training that responds quickly to labour market needs and the evolving economy. In addition, government is establishing TradeUpBC, a continuing education hub for in-demand jobs in the trades. Programs will target certified or experienced workers and will provide valuable skills that complement but do not replace apprentice training. Over three years, it’s estimated that up to 6,000 people will benefit from short-term training and TradeUpBC.
In addition, the plan includes measures that will break down barriers to help people enter the workforce and increase the number of students with job-ready skills needed for the tech-related and engineering workforce, early childhood education services, health-care professions, veterinary professions, teachers, construction jobs and other key sectors. Future Ready will also help employers recruit and retain employees to expand and grow.
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Key actions include:
- Bringing in 3,000 more tech seats to meet the demand for technology workers in BC’s changing economy. This is on top of the 2,900 new student spaces created over the past six years, for a total of nearly 6,000 new tech spaces throughout BC since 2017.
- Increasing the early childhood education spaces in the province by 50%, with more than 400 new opportunities for people to learn each year, which means more than 1,300 new training opportunities.
- Expanding skills training for people who are facing multiple barriers to employment. Skills training can provide job skills, certificates to meet job or industry requirements or essential workplace skills.
- Launching Find Your Path, which will boost access to high-opportunity occupations through new one-stop digital services.
- Removing the age requirements for the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program so that former youth in care in B.C. of all ages will have their tuition waived for post-secondary education. This program extension will create opportunities for 50,000 former youth in care in BC.
- Addressing and recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ workforce priorities through expanded post-secondary training and labour-market opportunities designed to boost the participation and employment security of Indigenous Peoples across the BC economy.
- Making it easier for newcomers to Canada to find a job in the field they are trained in. Faster assessment of internationally trained professionals will ease the demand for trained workers in the most critical services and industries.
The Province has also doubled interest-free student loan maximums through $151 million in student financial aid, the first increase to weekly student loan maximums since 2006. As well, the BC government has launched the Health Human Resources Strategy with $150 million in funding toward training in health-care professions.