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Posted: March 17, 2012

B.C.’s future in skills and trades – what will yours be?

Letter to the Editor

From a welder working at an industrial manufacturing plant to a craftsperson who has perfected a new wood design, British Columbia’s future is fuelled by the talent, experience and hard work of skilled individuals throughout the province.

As secondary students gear up for Spring Break this coming week, I’d like to celebrate the opportunities that a skilled career has to offer-and the mastery and pride that go hand in hand.

Without a doubt, our commitment to industry training is solid-and with over $100 million invested through the Industry Training Authority annually, these investments are working. The number of apprentices in B.C. has more than doubled, from about 14,000 in 2004 to approximately 32,000 in 2012.

In addition, public post-secondary institutions throughout the province, where most of all training is delivered, offer a variety of world-class programs ranging from professional cook or respiratory therapist to heavy duty mechanic.

With certification in hand, the next step becomes the most exciting. For example, an individual with an electrician’s certificate can look forward to working on commercial construction projects, hydroelectric dams, mining operations or wiring for smart homes and automated systems.

Every year, thousands of skilled workers receive their training in British Columbia-many who may have gone on to work on important projects at these same institutions. Over the past nearly 12 years, taxpayers have supported the largest post-secondary expansion in the province’s history: an impressive $2.1-billion investment that involved surveyors, landscapers, draftspeople, construction project managers and tradespeople. These are just small illustrations of how valuable these skills are each and every day.

Choosing a career path is an individual experience. Some will take a methodical approach to selecting just the right job. Some will leap head-first with an innate knowing. Others will try a few different things in order to figure out what they enjoy the most.

For me, when I was a student at UBC I had dreams of working in film and television, which ultimately paved the way for long career as a business owner in the graphic design industry. I realized that my skills could be applied in so many different ways once I was in the workforce, which is why a commitment to skills training is something that I take to heart.

Over the next decade, technology, tourism, forestry, mining, natural gas and transportation are a few of the sectors that are expected to drive our economy. With a groundswell in new business, the service industry in communities from Nelson to Prince Rupert will also be open for hire.

Skills and trades, which are a fundamental part of the BC Jobs Plan, have the potential to create generations of employment for British Columbians. I have no doubt that with training and apprenticeship opportunities, B.C. will grow into a centre of excellence in Canada.

We can look forward to a preview of B.C.’s future talent next year, when Vancouver will host the 19th annual Skills Canada National Competition. B.C. secondary, post-secondary and apprenticeship students will go head-to-head with students from across the country in competitions ranging from carpentry to web design.

For young adults embarking on their first career or for experienced workers vying for something new, B.C.’s door is wide open with countless opportunities.

Naomi Yamamoto,

Minister of Advanced Education

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