Opinion

Muskens: Plenty of opportunities to learn a skilled trade

Last week I wrote about the 1000 Women of Brazil project which is helping women enter skills training programs to move into higher paying jobs.

In Canada we have similar programs such as the Women’s Trade Training Program offered at the Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon campuses of Okanagan College which has now helped more than 350 women.

This program provides funding and support to under-skilled and unemployed women to help them move into skills training.

But you don’t have to be female to get help with retraining.

Since 2008 the federal government and the Province of B.C. have provided funding through the Labour Market Agreement (LMA) to improve the quality of our labour pool.

This project helps those who are unemployed but not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or those who are employed but low-skilled (usually without a high school diploma or some other certification) upgrade their skills and in turn earn a higher wage.

Alongside this program is the Strategic Training and Transition fund (STTF) which supports sectors, occupations and communities.

This program is much broader than the LMA as it provides funding and help to both employed and unemployed individuals regardless of whether or not they a collecting EI. It targets those who are impacted by an economic downturn such as the closure of a mill.

Through both of these programs a number of funded services were created. These include employment services such as helping workers in resume writing, job interview assistance and other assistance, and programs that provide direct skills development and upgrading interventions. This is what Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training Program falls under.

Other examples of programs include an Aboriginal Apprenticeship strategy, the Employment Skills Access program, Flexible Learning in the Trades and Trades Training for Immigrants.

In their 2010/11 Performance Outcome Report issued by both levels of government, there were 8,709 workers who participated in the LMA programs and another 27,092 who enrolled in a program through the STTF.

Through the LMA fund 4,736 of the participants entered a program that provided both skills development and work experience. This number would include the Women in Trades Training Program. Women accounted for 40.3 per cent of those who participated with youth workers (individuals under 30 years of age) coming in number two at 36.7 per cent.

Of those who participated 59.1 per cent had either a high school diploma or less and most of the participants were unemployed (66.4 per cent).

Of those who completed the programs (over 85 per cent) many either transitioned into further training, returned to the same job they had before they started the program, or found a new job—this accounted for 61.8 per cent of the group.

Of the 27,092 people who entered into one of the STTF programs, 13,752 of these enrolled in a Workplace Training for Innovation Pilot program which gives employers funding to provide employee training with a goal to improve such things as productivity, introducing new technology, equipment etc.  Another 9,413 participants took the BC Employment program which helps unemployed people build the skills they need to find employment such as job searches.

In the outcomes report, 3,223 individuals from the Thompson Okanagan have participated in either an LMA or STTF program. Currently through LMA and the ITA (Industry Training Authority) Okanagan College is trying to help individuals enter into trades training. If you’re interested in a skills upgrade contact the Trades Office at 250-862-5457.

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