B.C. announces plan to address skilled labour shortages

The $480-million action plan a grant of up to $3,500 for in-demand training.

B.C. Premier David Eby announces new efforts to address labour shortages. – Province of B.C.

Key Takeaways:

  • The plan establishes TradeUpBC, a continuing education hub for in-demand jobs in the trades.
  • Other actions aim to reduce barriers for those looking to enter the construction sector.
  • It also introduces rapid response training, which will support delivery of short-term training that responds quickly to labour market needs.

The Whole Story:

B.C. has revealed more details of its efforts to get more people trained for in-demand jobs. 

“Our economy is growing and innovating quickly,” said Premier David Eby. “Work is transforming, and we have more job openings than skilled people. That’s why we are taking action to make sure people are ready to seize new opportunities and build a good life here in B.C., and businesses are able find the people who drive our economy forward and deliver the services we all rely on.”

The StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan is focused on five pillars:

  • Making post-secondary education more affordable, accessible and relevant to residents. 
  • Helping people reskill to find in-demand jobs so more employers facing current and future skills shortages can find the people they need.
  • Breaking down barriers so everyone can find a job where they can thrive.
  • Addressing Indigenous Peoples’ workforce priorities.
  • Ensuring people new to B.C. find a career in the field in which they are trained.

“Every action in Future Ready is designed to take on the challenges of today, to build a better future for people and a stronger economy,” said Selina Robinson, minister of post-secondary education and future skills. “Together, we are building a future in B.C. where people are able to acquire the skills and find the opportunities they need to thrive, and employers are able to find the people they need to sustain and grow their businesses.”

The $480-million action plan is highlighted by a future skills grant of up to $3,500. This grant will cover the cost of training for in-demand jobs. Beginning in September this year the grant will be available to B.C. residents, making it easier for people to select from more than 400 eligible training opportunities at post-secondary institutions throughout B.C. for the most in-demand jobs in areas such as construction, tech, housing and clean energy. According to the province, this means some 8,500 newly trained people over the next three years will become skilled and ready to fill positions and address the skills gap.

“I’m hearing from businesses, small and large, that finding skilled labour is one of their biggest challenges,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “That’s exactly what this initiative will address. It will ensure businesses have access to a skilled and diverse talent pool, now and into the future. Good jobs are good for workers and for businesses. By working together, we can build a better future for B.C.”

The province is also introducing rapid response training, which will support delivery of short-term training that responds quickly to labour market needs and the evolving economy. In addition, government is establishing TradeUpBC, a continuing education hub for in-demand jobs in the trades. Programs will target certified or experienced workers and will provide skills that complement but do not replace apprentice training. Over three years, it’s estimated that up to 6,000 people will benefit from short-term training and TradeUpBC. 

In addition, the plan includes measures that will break down barriers to help people enter the workforce and increase the number of students with job-ready skills needed for the tech-related and engineering workforce, early childhood education services, health-care professions, veterinary professions, teachers, construction jobs and other key sectors. Future Ready will also help employers recruit and retain employees to expand and grow.

The province has also doubled interest-free student loan maximums through $151 million in student financial aid, the first increase to weekly student loan maximums since 2006. As well, the B.C. government has launched the Health Human Resources Strategy with $150 million in funding toward training in health-care professions.

Here are other plan details that could impact the construction sector:

  • Introducing the new future skills grant to provide British Columbians with up to $3,500 to cover the costs of tuition for short-term skills training for in-demand jobs delivered by public post-secondary institutions.
  • Establishing TradeUpBC, a continuing education hub for in-demand jobs to grow innovative delivery of post-secondary education with shorter, industry-driven training.
  • Increasing skills for certified journeypersons to continue learning throughout their careers.
  • Boosting training for people looking to enter the mass-timber industry, with the development and delivery of comprehensive mass-timber programs.
  • Introducing a new workplace innovation fund to support businesses implementing innovative new strategies to tackle the current labour-market challenge and better prepare for a changing economy.
  • Expanding skills training for people facing multiple barriers. Supports include employment assistance, counselling, mentoring, job placements, disability support, Indigenous cultural supports, child care, housing, transportation and other tailored supports.
  • Bringing forward several initiatives that will shift post-secondary education and training programs from government-led to Indigenous-led, and expand post-secondary training and labour market opportunities, with an investment of nearly $100 million.
  • Streamlining foreign credential recognition to improve processes and remove unnecessary barriers, helping employers find internationally trained workers faster.
  • Introducing Find Your Path, a new online one-stop shop for job seekers that will help people discover in-demand jobs, and the education and training they need to land those jobs. Continuing to expand supports for learners in Indigenous and remote communities through Contact North B.C.
  • Enhancing the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program to attract skilled international workers throughout the province, supporting thousands of employers each year in addressing labour shortages and prioritizing in-demand skills


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