By Amrik Virk
Minister of Advanced Education
As the fall semester draws near, more than 430,000 students from every corner of British Columbia are making plans for the future and preparing to hit the books at one of our 25 public post-secondary institutions.
This is an exciting time for them and an exciting time for our province.
As the new and returning students prepare to head to class, former students will tell them they’ll be getting an A+ education.
This week the government of B.C. released a new survey results from 30,000 former post-secondary students that show their experience with B.C.’s public post- secondary system was exceptional.
Annual survey results from a variety of educational areas of focus consistently show that our public post-secondary institutions do a great job of providing the right mix of education and training for students, and help set the stage for students’ success. Overall, 86% of employed respondents indicated that the knowledge and skills they acquired in their studies were useful to them in performing their jobs.
While we know that a post-secondary education is more likely to lead to well-paying employment, students and their families should also consider how their choices fit with the jobs available today or will be available in the future.
Labour market forecasts expect over a million job openings in B.C. by 2022. Nearly half will need trades or technical training. Many of the jobs will be located in B.C.’s northern region – particularly in the LNG and natural resource sectors.
British Columbians must be first in line for the jobs of the future.
That means ensuring their skills and knowledge are the right fit. That’s why we developed an action plan to give young people a clear and seamless path right from school through to the labour market.
In April this year, we announced plans to re-engineer our public education system from K-12 through to post-secondary. B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint re-align skills and training to match the jobs of today and tomorrow.
We are already moving ahead with changes to help us meet that goal, with targeted funding for trades and technical training, new trades training seats to improve student access to training and to reduce waitlists, and new or improved infrastructure at our public post-secondary institutions.
As a parent and as a British Columbian invested in the future of our economy, I strongly urge students to look at where the jobs are based and tailor their education and training to fit.
B.C.’s population is concentrated in the Lower Mainland and on southern Vancouver Island, but B.C. is a resource-based economy, and many of these jobs are located outside of the major centres.
We need to strike a balance between growing our economy and educating a skilled workforce with the research and intellectual curiosity that is a vital element of our post-secondary system.
B.C.’s world-class public post-secondary system is evolving to meet the needs of our changing economy.
I believe we can ensure its continued success by working together, engaging in dialogue and collaborating with our partners in industry to develop programs that more closely align skills with jobs. That will result in secure jobs with good paycheques in back pockets.
Students, it’s time to build your career. Let’s plan it together.