Opinion

Thomson: Post-secondary education options for British Columbians

Across the province as we approach the summer months, many young British Columbians and their families are planning their transition to new careers and learning opportunities.

It’s important that our students have the right skills and options in order to make choices that are right for them and their families. As we move toward a province that enjoys a robust and productive economy I would like to take a moment to highlight the work our government has been doing to ready British Columbians for an evolving provincial economy.

On May 21 Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk joined faculty, staff and students at Okanagan College to officially break ground for the new $33-million trades training complex at the Kelowna campus.  The expansion means 5,500 square metres of new space and up-to-date facilities for trade shops including automotive repair, carpentry and welding.

Trades-related training at the Kelowna campus has more than doubled over the last 10 years and is expected to increase with our growing economy. Once completed, the new trades complex will accommodate up to 2,408 students and apprentices.

It’s important for British Columbians to find their fit in jobs and training opportunities. By 2022, the province is expecting one million jobs due to retirement and our growing liquefied natural gas sector. British Columbians looking to transition careers need the supports and opportunity in order to make the right choices to participate in our growing economy.

Our government recently launched B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: Reengineering Education and Training that means greater prosperity and opportunity for British Columbians.  The Skills for Jobs Blueprint will create many opportunities for skills and trades training, including more support for scholarships and early hands-on learning and help students get a head start for the jobs of the future.  We all know that the better prepared our students are, the more successful they will be in finding meaningful jobs and careers.  Together, we are providing students with a seamless pathway from school to the workplace.

In support of those studying at post-secondary institutions, government has invested more than $3.2 billion in student financial assistance since 2001, making post-secondary education more accessible for all British Columbians.  Since 2001, more than $2.4 billion has been invested in capital and infrastructure projects at B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions.   In total, B.C. students pay less than one-third of the cost of their post-secondary education.

For those who take out student loans, government pays 100 per cent of the interest on loans while students are enrolled in full-time studies.  B.C. student loans are forgiven over a three-year period when eligible professionals—such as nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), nurse practitioners, midwives, pharmacists and doctors—agree to work in an under-served or designated community in B.C.

Our government is committed to creating a better future for all British Columbians. Part of this is making sure students and families are informed and supported in making the right decisions for a secure, prosperous future.

I would like to wish all those working towards a new career a safe, happy and exciting beginning of the summer.  Take the time to evaluate the many options that there are out there.  The future is yours to discover.

For more information on the post-secondary options available to British Columbians please visit the Ministry of Advanced Education’s website at http://www.gov.bc.ca/aved/.

 

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