I often think about students today, and the world they’re graduating into. It’s going to look a lot different than the world I graduated into.
Consider this: By 2025, there’s going to be nearly a million job openings in B.C. alone. The year 2025 sounds impossibly far away, but it’s just nine years from now. In other words, if you have kids entering third grade, that’s the year they’ll finish high school.
Nearly eight out of 10 of those one million jobs will need some kind of post-secondary education or training. That’s 800,000 jobs we want British Columbia kids to be first in line for — which means they’ll need training.
To make sure they’re ready, we’re investing in new training facilities at post-secondary institutions across B.C., starting with the $35-million Okanagan Trades Renewal project, which opened mid-September.
The project involved building a new 6,237 square metre expansion to the existing trades complex, along with a comprehensive renovation of the 4,385 square metre existing facility, which opened in the 1960s.
And in addition to updated facilities for a number of foundation certificate programs, diploma programs and apprenticeship programs, the renovations also included retrofitting the mechanical and energy systems to reduce their energy footprint, and allow the facility to become energy neutral.
It’s a modern learning space in every sense of the word.
This was a good investment, because over the last 10 years, demand for trades training programs at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus has more than doubled.
The renovated and expanded facility means 2,400 more graduates every year, ready for good-paying, in-demand careers as electricians, automotive technicians, welders, plumbers, and more.
Okanagan College isn’t alone. The provincial government is investing $185 million through our Skills for Jobs Blueprint for capital projects and equipment to support trades and skills training throughout B.C. We’re able to make this kind of investment without going into deficit, because of our strong, growing economy. In economic growth, job creation, employment — and the country’s largest budget surplus — right now, we’re leading Canada.
We’re in this position because we’ve controlled government spending, and stuck to our plan to grow the economy and the middle class — not penalize growth with new taxes.
What that means is we’re able to invest in people, and make sure we put British Columbians first.
Okanagan College’s new and expanded trades complex will launch thousands of bright futures.
Now that’s an investment that will pay dividends for generations.
Christy Clark is the MLA for Westside-Kelowna and Premier of B.C.