The Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce has had its calls heard for better and more equitable access to educational resources.
When Clyde MacGregor came on as the chamber’s general manager in February, among his goals was to improve access to education opportunities, particularly for adults looking to learn new skills in the rural community.
More online options were needed, he said, and the emergence of COVID-19 only made transitions to digital more urgent.
Enderby is situated on Splatsin land, and MacGregor said he’s also noticed challenges that affect the Splatsin community more than others.
“They’re an integral part of our community, but at the same time, I know for a fact that many of the band members don’t have access to the kind of internet we have even in Enderby, let alone in a major centre,” he said.
MacGregor addressed the B.C. Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance & Government Services on June 2, calling for better digital connectivity to help businesses thrive and employers work from home, among other recommendations.
The committee’s official Budget 2021 consultation report, released Friday, Aug. 21, cited several of MacGregor’s recommendations.
“The Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce noted how digital connectivity was critical for enabling businesses to survive and enabling British Columbians to work from home,” the report reads, while recommending that the Legislature work with telecommunications companies to strengthen digital infrastructure across the province.
In line with the Enderby chamber’s recommendations, the report also called for more resources in the 2021 budget towards adult education, to provide broader course offerings and “ensure equity in the funding of adult students and school-age students.”
MacGregor said he was pleased by the report’s call to expand satellite campuses in rural and under-served communities, and hopes to one day see an educational space added to Enderby or Armstrong.
In the long term, MacGregor would like to see Enderby become more diverse in its industries and break into the technology and information sectors.
His address to the standing committee called for access to post-secondary technology, trades and degree programs to address worker shortages in technology services, and he said he was glad to see the report’s recommendation for flexible reskilling and upskilling opportunities “with a lens to equity, reconciliation and accessibility.”
He said like other small communities, it’s difficult for Enderby to keep full-time workers in the local area, and hopes some digital solutions are included in the 2021 budget.
“We want to avoid the tendency for Enderby to become, like so many other small towns, a bedroom community to a larger centre,” he said.
“My long-standing goal is to make Enderby a conducive environment, to have more extensive opening hours, to have more diversified jobs in more sectors so that it becomes more of a self-sustaining community.”