Kamloops public forum calls for changes to skills training

"When employers and unions start to sound the same alarm bell about BC's skills training deficit, smart governments would pay close attention to what we are saying," said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE).

Oliver was speaking at a BC Federation of Labour-FPSE sponsored public forum on BC's looming skills shortage and the need to improve public post-secondary education and training opportunities. The forum was held at the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) campus in Kamloops.

"This forum was not just a gathering of 'usual suspects'. Instead, we brought together the President of the BC Chamber of Commerce, John Winter, and the President of the BC Federation of Labour, Jim Sinclair, because both sides know that the provincial government's policy changes of the last four years have not addressed the skills shortage that we are facing in BC," said Oliver. "If anything, those policy changes have made the problem worse, not better," added Oliver.

"The BC Chamber of Commerce presented information on how the skills shortage has affected various sectors and regions of the province," said Oliver. "Mr. Winter's presentation confirmed what many in the labour movement have been saying for a long time; we are making it more difficult for students to either access or complete any kind of public post-secondary education or training even though we know that 73% of all new jobs require some sort of post-secondary degree, certificate or diploma," said Oliver.

"The forum produced a lot of good ideas and discussion about what needs to change if we are going to seriously address the skills shortage. We heard from TRU instructors about some of the problems that they face because provincial funding has not kept pace with the needs in their area. We heard from many apprentices and trades people about the problems that de-regulated skills training have created for them. And we also heard from local business owners about the new skills that they need in new employees," Oliver noted.

"We are organizing several more public forums like the one held in Kamloops because we know that every region of the province is not only affected by the growing skills shortage, but also wants to be part of any new solution. We have scheduled a forum for Prince George and Nanaimo in early March and plan to compile a report for government summarizing some of the key findings from this process," Oliver concluded.

To read Cindy Oliver's speaking notes from this event, click here to download.

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for more information contact Phillip Legg (604) 873-8988 or (604) 788-2877 plegg@fpse.ca

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.