B.C. continues breaking down barriers for former youth in care

Melanie Mark

FORMER youth in care are being given another key to unlocking their full potential, thanks to expanded tuition-fee waivers for construction trades training delivered by union providers.

“We’re building on our tuition waiver program by providing former youth in care with even more opportunities to pursue a career in the building trades,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “For former youth in care, this tuition waiver program can mean the start down a rewarding new path, whether in trades, business, social work or tech.”

In September 2017, Premier John Horgan announced the expansion of the tuition waiver program to all 25 public post-secondary institutions. This new announcement expands the provincial tuition waiver program to include training programs delivered by union trainers in the construction trades.

“Youth in care deserve every opportunity to pursue their dreams, and government has a responsibility to help them reach their goals,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Not all youth are ready or interested in a college or university degree. I got my start as a power engineer, and I understand the importance of expanding our tuition waiver program to include trades training. This will provide practical, and often faster, ways for youth in care to achieve independence.”

The number of former youth in care benefiting from tuition waiver programs has increased by 77%. About 189 youth benefited from bursaries or waivers, between September 2016 and June 2017, compared to 335 former youth in care who benefited from the provincial tuition waiver program, between September 2017 and March 2018.

“Expanding the tuition waiver program to union-based training schools, which are jointly managed by unions and contractors, is great news,” said Tom Sigurdson, executive director of the BC Building Trades. “Our members already provide wraparound career and personal supports to help apprentices through their training, and this is a further investment in their continued success.”

The Industry Training Authority (ITA), a B.C. Crown corporation, funds trades training programs at 15 public post-secondary institutions, and 24 non-public training organizations, including 10 unions.

Union trainers are accredited by the ITA, which provides union trainers with $2.6 million to provide 1,600 trades training seats.

Expanding the program outside of public post-secondary institutions to union trainers will provide more choice, while ensuring students still receive wraparound supports.

“Skilled trades are a great career option for young people wanting to make a difference in the communities they live in,” said Gary Herman, ITA CEO. “With one out of four tradespeople retiring in the next 10 years, this investment is providing all young people, including youth in care, with the necessary trades training to prepare them for a successful career in skilled trades.”

The construction sector in B.C. is expected to see more than 59,000 jobs open up by 2027.

The tuition waiver program is being expanded to union-based training providers effective July 1, 2018. Union-based training providers offer continuous on-the-job training and extensive wraparound supports, including job placement, career counselling, mentorship and personal counselling.

The expanded tuition waiver is for former youth in care students, who are either taking a foundation program or apprenticeship training through a union trainer.

Budget 2018 includes $2 million annually for the provincial tuition waiver program, in addition to expansion of the Agreements with Young Adults program, to provide more financial support for rent, child care and health care.