BCIT partners with industry and government in closing the skills gap in BC

The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) hosted Premier David Eby, Minister Selina Robson, Minister of Post-Secondary and Future Skills, and Minister Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, at the BCIT Annacis Island Campus today for an announcement about the Province’s new StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan that will give more people the skills they need to succeed in a changing economy.

The action plan brings together several steps taken by the Province, focused on five pillars:

  • Making post-secondary more affordable, accessible, and relevant to British Columbians
  • Supporting employers facing current and future labour force challenges to fill the jobs of tomorrow faster
  • Eliminating barriers so everyone can find a job where they can thrive
  • Addressing Indigenous People’s workforce priorities
  • Acting to ensure people new to Canada find a career in the field they are trained in

“The Future Ready Action Plan reflects the strength of BCIT in providing relevant and applied training to ensure skilled professionals are job-ready to support the evolving demands of the workforce,” said Paul McCullough, Interim President, BCIT. “We look forward to creating more pathways for connecting learners, industry, and government in support of building a resilient and agile economy.”

Future skills grant: Supporting British Columbians in upskilling

The $480-million Future Ready Action Plan is highlighted by the future skills grant, which is a new short-term skills training grant available to help British Columbians further their careers and upskill for in-demand jobs. For employers, this means some 8,500 newly trained professionals over the next three years will be job-ready to fill in-demand positions and help address the skills gap faced throughout the province.

Beginning September 2023, the future skills grant will provide eligible learners with up to $3,500 of funding for short-term skills training at public BC post-secondaries, including BCIT. There are currently more than 25 BCIT programs approved for the future skills grant funding, including those in cybersecurity, sustainability, and construction. Funding is provided through the Province of British Columbia.

TradeUpBC: A continuing education portal for tradespeople in BC

In addition to the future skills grant, the Province also introduced TradeUpBC as a continuing education hub to support tradespeople in BC to build on their skills and experience for new opportunities in areas of demand in trades.

Beginning in September 2023, TradeUpBC will provide new reskilling and training opportunities for more trades workers that fall outside of formal apprenticeship training programs, and in a manner that responds quickly to new skills for in-demand and rapidly evolving jobs. New training, developed with input from industries, will be relevant to the immediate needs of employees and employers.

These include:

  • Changes in technology: Adapt to new technologies and digitization
  • Climate change impacts: Respond to climate change job and skills impacts
  • Leadership skills development: Learn business, managerial, and leadership skills.
  • Mentorship training: Build mentorship skills to more effectively supervise apprentices.
  • Inclusive workplaces: Enhance inclusivity and reconciliation in the workplace.
  • Educator training: Identify and support pathways to become an educator.

Through TradeUpBC, BCIT joins post-secondary institutes across the province in providing short-term microcredentials and flexible professional development opportunities to ensure experienced tradespeople and employers stay resilient, adaptable, and inclusive.

These offerings will assist tradespeople and employers with advancing their careers, strengthening their businesses, creating welcoming worksites for everyone, and ensuring they are future ready.

As President of Seagate Mass Timber and a multiple alum of BCIT, Scott Comfort knows first-hand the value of continuing education to support tradespeople for in-demand opportunities in an evolving workforce.

“I have watched BCIT shift many times to support the needs of the growing construction industry over the years and prepare construction professionals for what’s next,” shared Scott. “I am very excited, not only to see the incredible growth in the mass timber industry in Canada, but to see amazing programming becoming available to construction professionals that want to learn more about all aspects of mass timber. Thanks to today’s announcement, there will be more pathways for learners and workers from all backgrounds to enter and upskill in our exciting industry.”

O’Garo Morrison, BCIT Heavy Mechanical Foundation student, also added, “Growth in EV is exciting both for industry and for the Province’s own sustainability goals. It’s paramount that we drastically reduce the carbon footprint including greenhouse gases, chlorofluorocarbons, and fossil fuels. Thanks to this announcement today, I hope more people across BC will have access to post-secondary pathways to start their career in this growing field.”

BCIT currently offers 10 courses via TradeUpBC. More offerings will be included from partner post-secondary institutes across BC when the official TradeUpBC website launches in January 2024.

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