Opinion

EDITORIAL: Deeds and dollars needed for trades

The B.C. government has repeatedly said it wants to build a skilled labour force to replace the thousands of jobs that will go begging when older workers retire in the next 10 years.

It could start by funding new equipment and supporting shop classes here in the Lower Mainland.

While we are thrilled that Victoria is partnering with Kamloops school district to build a $7.4-million trades training high school slated to open this September — complete with classes in civil engineering, mining technology and construction, to name a few — support for local shop classes here at home would be appreciated.

It has now become a mantra that our focus on university education and white-collar jobs was shortsighted. Soon we will be in a situation where we have grads for jobs that don’t exist and jobs with no workers unless we can do a better job to make trades training a viable option.

But here in School District 43, schools struggle to stay current with old equipment that they can’t afford to replace and teachers need some good old-fashioned marketing support to attract students.

There is much good going on in SD43’s trades programs: Students can get school credit and their first year of apprenticeship in construction electrician, plumbing and metal fabrication, for example. They can take some of their courses in their home school and attend trades classes at another, if they so desire.

Their teachers are doing their best to give them the kind of hands-on training that they will need even if they don’t decide to get a journeyman’s ticket.

But schools can’t do this work in a vacuum. They need to know their government is behind them not only in word, but in deed, too, supporting class sizes that make shop classes safe, providing equipment to upgrade older machines and make sure courses stay current. And the government must promote trades training to younger students and girls as well as boys.

In short, schools need more than photo ops and slogans from the province to make a difference for kids.

 

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