British Columbia to expand Skills Training Programs

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

Faced with a potential shortage of 61,500 skilled workers to fill the over 350,000 new jobs expected by 2020, the British Columbia government intends to expand its Training Tax Credit program to help employers and apprentices get the skills and training they need.

Based in part upon studies undertaken by the Vancouver-based GLOBE Foundation, the B.C. government anticipates a possible shortfall in the number of skilled workers needed to fill the anticipated one million job openings that will be available in the province by 2020, To help meet this demand the Province intends to deliver a three-year extension of its approximately $31-million annual funding for the B.C. Training Tax Credit program to help employers and apprentices get the skills and training they need.

As well, working through the BC Jobs Plan, the provincial government is developing Regional Workforce Tables to ensure the Province is providing skills and trades training that align with specific regional needs.

The B.C. Training Tax Credit program provides employers with refundable tax credits in respect of salary and wages paid by employers to eligible apprentices. Apprentices registered in an eligible program are also eligible for a fully refundable personal income tax credit.

To encourage participation in trades training in respect of First Nations individuals or persons with disabilities, individual and employer tax credits are enhanced by up to 50 per cent.

Industry Training

The Province is committing over $100M to the Industry Training Authority (ITA), the provincial Crown agency responsible for overseeing B.C.'s industry training and apprenticeship system, that provides industry and career development opportunities for British Columbians.

The number of total registered training participants has grown from approximately 14,000 in 2004 to about 36,000 total participants today.

Post-secondary Education

The Ministry of Advanced Education, in conjunction with the ITA, funds a network of northern colleges to deliver a range of trades, technology and related programs including heavy equipment operators, welding, pipefitters, oil and gas field operators, and introduction to trades.

All of these positions are related to the labour market needs of the oil and gas sector including the proposed LNG projects.

In addition, the northern colleges deliver a wide range of workforce training programs in direct partnership with industry including pipeline construction boot camps, excavator training and numerous safety and employment related certifications.

Details on the planned extensions of skills development and training programs were part of the announcement by B.C. Premier Christy Clark of British Columbia's natural gas strategy. (See related GLOBE-Net article 'Natural gas to fuel B.C.'s new economy')

The GLOBE Group is currently engaged in a more detailed examination of the labour needs, and job potential of British Columbia's 'Clean Economy'.

Energy efficiency, green buildings and renewable energy were identified as growing business sectors in the 2010 Green Economy report published by the Globe Foundation in 2010. That same report warned of a looming shortage of skilled workers could lead to missed economic opportunities if left unchecked.

'The bottom line here is that we are seeing a real opportunity here and we need to find out how to take advantage of it,' said John Wiebe, president and CEO of the Globe Foundation.

Added Wiebe, 'the current project aims to identify and define key strategic sectors of the 'clean; economy with the highest potential for job creation.'

About Green Education & Training in BC

There is a wide variety of existing and new learning opportunities available to people interested in following 'green' career paths in British Columbia. With the green elements of BC's economy growing faster than the economy as a whole, there is increasing demand for skilled and experienced workers needed to fill the relevant positions in all industries. The GLOBE Foundation reports on British Columbia's emerging green economy are available here.

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