Letnick: Connecting job seekers to tomorrow’s opportunities

Getting back to WorkBC: B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint outlines…the right skills in the right place at the right time.

B.C. is reaching a tipping point, with fewer young people entering the workforce than older people leaving it. That’s why our government has worked hard to ensure we’re training British Columbians for all of the job opportunities coming on line in the next decade—nearly one million of them, in fact—due to these retirements as well as the economic growth we’re enjoying in this province.

The B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint outlines our commitment to getting people prepared with the right skills in the right place at the right time. Since the launch of the Blueprint in April 2014, we’ve committed more than $1.7 million in new trades training equipment to help local students at Okanagan College learn the ‘tools of the trade.’ In addition, we have invested more than $1.7 million during this same time to create 355 additional trades training seats, helping to reduce waitlists.

Okanagan College has also received $50,000 to help students develop coding-related skills for occupations in demand by the tech sector. And of course, the new trades training complex at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College continues to take shape. Our government was pleased to provide $28 million to support this $33 million project.

We’re also partnering with the federal government to invest in skills training programs offered by various organizations in our community. Just this week, we announced more than $2.27 million under the Canada-British Columbia Job Fund for five programs in Kelowna and area that will benefit local job seekers. The purpose of the Employment Services and Supports (ESS) Program is to reach out to unemployed and non-EI eligible British Columbians to help prepare them for entry to, or return to, sustainable employment.

The local programs supported include the YMCA of Okanagan’s YMCA Youth Works program; Bowman Employment Services’ Get Youth Working for Youth in the Thompson-Okanagan Region program; the Kelowna Community Resources Society’s Job Readiness in the 21st Century: Skills Initiative for Specialized Populations in the Central Okanagan program, as well as their Essential Skills Training in the 21st Century for Job Seekers in the Central Okanagan program; and the B.C. Construction Association’s Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP) Thompson-Okanagan.

Meantime, after just four years in operation WorkBC Employment Services Centres have helped put more than 77,000 British Columbians back to work. These centres offer more than just traditional job search resources– they also provide specialized services and supports to people with disabilities, Aboriginal people, immigrants, youth and survivors of violence or abuse.

As of December 31, 2015, WorkBC Employment Services Centres in Kelowna have helped put more than 2,800 people back to work. Launched in April 2012, WorkBC has provided services to more than 12,600 people in Kelowna and 42.4 per cent of those who received one-on-one personalized supports found a job—and that number continues to grow.

Check out WorkBC’s website at www.workbckelowna.ca, call 778-478-8390 or pop into their office at Unit 102 – 1460 Pandosy St. I wish all local job seekers well in their pursuit of the many opportunities coming available.