Skills training is the answer

Why, I wonder, is the government still pushing education when everyone knows it is a skilled worker shortage we have

I refer to Colin Mayes’ article Accessing Education. Why, I wonder, is the government still pushing education when everyone knows it is a skilled worker shortage we have, not a  lack of ultra-clever young people without jobs or doing menial jobs, anything.

Many leave town with their college diploma, even going abroad looking for job opportunities because that is what they were promised, not an interesting career in town. Canada must have the best educated, unskilled work-ready labour force in the world.

What we need is some clear direction on jobs and training and how the country intends to solve this devastating need for skilled workers. Throwing millions of dollars at an already failed system does not work.

Let me give you an example of how a government minister would explain their skills training policy:

“We believe that stuffing students’ heads with knowledge for a few months, extensive use of computers and continually texting is the best way to learn work skills. Colleges cannot actually do work skills training but we accept what they do to be better than the on the job experience and practice method. It is just not necessary to get all that hands-on experience that the tradespeople talk about as being necessary before getting a job. In order to maintain  the highest standards in all trades and crafts, your government supports the Red Seal certification program. All apprentices are tested before being awarded a Red Seal trade certificate. The 2012/13 yearly report states that a credible 25,000 certificates were awarded. It also states that 20 years ago, in its first year of operation, RSC awarded 23,000 certificates, clearly a substantial move forward in a short 20-year period.”

Let’s take another look at that. Forget about the 20 years it took to improve the RS output by 2,000. The 2,500 is just four per cent of the school leavers. Four in every 100 school leavers became trades certified. An investment of $100 million a year in the potential workforce bodies and we produce four tradespeople in every 100. Where are the other 96? Now I know we need some scholars but 25,000 tradespeople nationwide out of one million and this was our best year. What a joke.

It is said we will need one million more tradespeople by 2020. With natural wastage, we are in fact going backwards. We are losing ground because we do not have a comprehensive business community-based jobs and training scheme. It is not necessary to have a college diploma to do the 1,000 different jobs ordinary people do every day as skilled and valuable workers. We cannot lead the world in technology if we let our communities die.

Six years ago, I had a meeting with Mr. Mayes on this very same subject. I presented him with a simple way to provide jobs with skills training in our community for young people. It was revenue neutral, meaning it would not cost the government anything. My request was, and has always been to all I have discussed it with, if you cannot find a practical reason why this would not work, please use your influence and do something about it.

I know he was impressed, he said so and also sent a copy of my proposal to the prime minister.

I am still waiting for a response from both. Since then, I have seen local government people, business association managers, business owners, education executives and training professionals. I have also written dozens of letters.

Never have I been shown any practical reason why this plan would not work. Surely someone has enough initiative to make Vernon part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

The economic/financial tsunami that was predicted in this column recently is certainly on its way. I believe the skilled worker crisis will be found as the cause. Think about it.


Roy Humphrey, Vernon



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