Province invests $45 million into skills training programs

Includes $22 million to fund 4,500 training spots and paid internships through Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster.

The Province announced that it’s investing almost $45 million into a series of programs that will provide 5,000 B.C. youth with access to skills training and job opportunities as part of a StrongerBC Future Leaders Program.

Why it matters: Not only do young people traditionally face higher unemployment early in their careers, they’re also the first to feel the impact of economic shifts.

  • Case in point: during the pandemic, youth unemployment peaked at 29%, over 15 percentage points above the provincial average.

  • As of March 2021, youth unemployment sits at 12.1%, above the general unemployment rate in B.C. of 6.9%.

Details: The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation is investing $22 million to fund a minimum of 4,500 training spots and paid internships in two programs, in partnership with Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will invest more than $11 million for over 220 jobs in the Natural Resource Youth Employment program and the Recreation Sites and Trails program.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is creating opportunities for up to 180 young people to help tackle marine debris and plastic pollution in coastal communities. An investment of $5 million in the Clean Coast, Clean Waters program is aimed at youth employment, including youth in Indigenous communities.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy will invest $4.6 million to create 37 positions with BC Parks and 46 positions with the Conservation Officer Service, to work in a variety of fields to gain experience and help protect the environment. 

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training has invested $1 million into Mitacs for key internal program placements. This funding is in addition to the $1.8 million provided in 2019-20, for a total investment of $2.18 million over two years.

Bottom line: Youth are literally the future of the province, and any investment in their skills development almost promises a guaranteed return. In addition, for B.C.’s tech industry and related sectors to continue on their current growth trajectory, the province must make every effort to shore up the pipeline of skilled workers. The government appears to have recognized how challenging that could be, and these investments, which they note are part of Budget 2021, give us insight into how they plan on solving B.C.’s talent development problems.