Welding students from Vancouver Island University: funding is being doubled for programs that start trades training in high school.

‘Vocational school’ back in style in B.C.

Elementary and middle school will emphasize hands-on activities, and trades training in high school is going to double

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has rolled out its ambitious overhaul of the public education system, from kindergarten to graduate school, much to the horror of its left-wing establishment.

The formal title is B.C.’s Skills For Jobs Blueprint: Re-engineering Education and Training. It’s designed to dovetail with the Harper regime’s Canada Job Grant that requires employers to co-sponsor training spaces so they will hire the students at the end.

Elementary and middle school curriculum is being revised to increase emphasis on hands-on experience. High school and post-secondary skilled trades programs are getting more money, but it’s going to be shifted from under-performing programs that don’t lead to jobs.

Premier Christy Clark took another swipe at the bias of B.C.’s system before heading to Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong on another liquefied natural gas sales trip. She noted that 20% of B.C. students, and nearly half of aboriginal students, don’t finish high school.

“Not only are there kids who don’t graduate, there are kids who graduate, go out and get one or two credentials before they finally find their way into a skills training program,” said Clark, who had her own wander through university campuses before going into politics.

A couple of weeks ago, Simon Fraser University president Andrew Petter downplayed the “relatively small” skilled trades shortage for B.C. industry.

“We should not be engaged in a zero-sum kind of battle for dollars,” Petter protested. That’s exactly what he and other university executives are looking at, and it will be based on the latest graduate employment data and labour demand forecasts.

One of the key architects of this sweeping plan is Jessica McDonald, who shook up the public service while serving as Gordon Campbell’s deputy minister.

Her report on trades training confirms what Campbell’s critics in the labour movement have long said: the government’s 10-year experiment with the Industry Training Authority is a rudderless mess.

“Certain partners, particularly organized labour, feel marginalized,” McDonald wrote. “Others, particularly employers and employers’ associations, do not feel heard within the system. Over the recent past, several new directions have been introduced such as de-regulation of trades and modular training that have caused strain because they were not fully inclusive during development, were seen to benefit single interests, and they impacted the whole system.”

The ITA board is being replaced, with union representation restored, and advisory councils from industrial employers will update their hiring needs.

The B.C. Federation of Labour and the construction unions have all but abandoned the NDP after Adrian Dix’s disastrous pitch for urban anti-industry votes last year. B.C. Fed president Jim Sinclair was an early advocate for rescuing skilled trades from the second-class status they received in a culture fixated on university for two generations.

That culture has created glaring problems. There are too many institutions offering the same courses. As with health care, block funding is handed out without any serious effort to measure the results. For many students, university has become an extension of adolescence, finding one’s self through philosophy or film studies.

Employers get their share of blame from McDonald. Not only did they chop up trades training to make it cheaper to obtain, their preferred source of skilled workers has been to poach from other employers who paid to train them.

Skills-based employment data will be made public for students to make career choices. Finally, students coming out of high school will have a way to assess what they can expect after $50,000 or more is spent on higher education.

It’s about time.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Holiday bears off to new homes

Annual Morning Star December giveaway draws crowd on cold Saturday morning

Outbreak at Okanagan hospital

Gastrointestinal illness reported at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Cherry Lane boosts support for PRH expansion

Shopping Centre has donated almost $40,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation

Safe winter driving urged

Police have answered accident calls following snowfalls

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

Dedicated volunteers look for clues

Police appreciate work of those who provide extra eyes for missing women investigations.

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

RCMP look to reunite owner with stolen tools

Kelowna police seek to identify the owner of tablet and tools seized by RCMP

Were your hockey cards stolen?

The Kelowna RCMP are looking to reunite a hockey fan with their cards

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Most Read