Investing in skills training for B.C.’s workers

BRITISH Columbians whose jobs have been affected by COVID-19, and people facing barriers to employment, can get new skills training and job opportunities through new training projects.

“The global pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for British Columbians who lost their jobs or became under-employed,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, on Thursday. “These new community-based skills training projects will help people facing employment challenges receive the training and support they need to help themselves while also building our economy.”

This investment is part of B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan to help thousands of people upskill or reskill and find their place in the post-COVID economy. Funding of $95 million is being allocated to organizations around B.C. to provide skills training and employment services and supports for over 9,000 British Columbians.

Skills training providers, service organizations, and industry employers are providing opportunities via three provincewide funding streams, including:

* Community Workforce Response Grant program: $33 million to train 3,700 British Columbians affected by COVID-19 for in-demand work and jobs with changing skill requirements. Short-term skills training projects are prioritized for low-skilled workers, youth, women, older workers 55+, Indigenous people, recent immigrants, people of colour and those with employment history in an industry or sector impacted by the pandemic.

* The B.C. Employer Training Grant program: $2.8 million to train British Columbians who are, or were, working in sectors that have been affected by COVID-19, and to support training for persons with disabilities.

* Skills Training for Employment programs: $59.2 million for 117 new agreements that will provide skills training leading to employment, along with relevant wraparound supports, to 5,200 British Columbians in 2021-22. Programs target vulnerable populations, including survivors of domestic violence, persons with disabilities, individuals with criminal justice-system involvement, recent immigrants, visible minorities, youth, Indigenous youth and individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The new programs also include Industry Training Authority pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship trades training for persons with disabilities and pre-apprenticeship trades training programs for youth and equity-seeking groups.

New training projects funded through the four program streams are available in local communities across all regions of the province. Examples include:

* Discovery Community College Ltd. will deliver the Crisis Response Mental Health Worker Project to 20 participants in Surrey beginning August 23.

* BC Care Providers Association will provide the Health Care Assistant program to 16 participants in Campbell River beginning August 16.

* The Canadian Vocational Training Centre is providing the AEGIS Program to 60 participants in the Thompson-Okanagan, Mainland/Southwest, Cariboo, and North Coast and Nechako regions. This program prepares survivors of domestic violence for work as Community Support Workers.

* Stillwater Consulting Ltd. Is delivering the Wildland Firefighting and Silviculture program for 156 participants in Cranbrook, Prince George, Mission, Nanaimo and Kamloops. The program prepares people with criminal justice system involvement for work as a firefighter.

* The YWCA Metro Vancouver is delivering the Greatworks/ReSTART Employment Program to 60 participants living in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The program helps women with criminal justice system involvement to find work, job training or education and includes essential skills training, one-on-one support and wraparound supports.

* The DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society is delivering the Practice Care Program for 45 survivors of domestic violence who are newcomers and/or people of colour. Training is delivered in Metro Vancouver and includes essential skills, Early Childhood Education training and certification, wraparound supports and mentorship.

* The Mission Community Skills Centre Society is delivering the Wild Craft Food Program in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Forty Indigenous youth who are interested in starting a business will receive online training in business skills, and food sovereignty and security within Indigenous communities.

These programs complement the Province’s StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan, which invested $20 million earlier this year for short-term training projects (CWRG) to help workers attach to or rejoin the workforce. It includes both provincial and federal funding through the Canada-B.C. Workforce Development Agreement.