Liberals trying to play catch-up on skills training with cashless plan

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VICTORIA— A decade after dismantling the skills training and apprenticeship system the B.C. Liberals have admitted their changes were a failure, and are now trying to rework the system without properly funding it, say the New Democrats.

“It’s been a decade since the B.C. Liberals dismantled our apprenticeship and trades system, and we need real investments in skills training to make up for years of lost opportunities. Instead, the B.C. Liberals are turning the ministry of Advanced Education into the ministry of reallocation,” said New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix.

“For the past several years, New Democrats have emphasized that skills training must be a priority, a key focus of government- and that requires a commitment that is matched by resources. Rather than doing the right thing by presenting a serious plan that re-invests in every level of education, the B.C. Liberals are continuing with disatrous cuts, and a 25 per cent reallocation of funding for higher education that will only take opportunities away from young British Columbians.”

Dix noted that the B.C. Liberals refusal to upgrade shops in high schools and bring back safer class size limits for classes utilizing power tools and other dangerous equipment is a perfect example of how they aren’t being serious about trades training.

“We have instructors who have left our school system because of the unsafe conditions and outdated equipment in B.C. shop classes,” said Dix. “Yet instead of making real investments in our education system that would make a real difference, the B.C. Liberals are increasing demands on a school system that is stretched to the limit.”

Skills training critic Doug Routley noted that a decade after firing apprenticeship advisors, the B.C. Liberals are finally hiring them back.

“We have been calling for improvements like bringing back apprenticeship advisors and ensuring public infrastructure projects are used as opportunities to train up apprentices for years,” said Routley. “While the government has made a vague commitment towards some of those measures, they have no details on how they will accomplish them without putting an additional nickel towards our skills training system.”