New skills training seats in Cariboo for B.C. jobs

More people in the Cariboo will be able to pursue post secondary training in Williams Lake and Quesnel in 2015.

More people in the Cariboo will be able to pursue post secondary training in Williams Lake and Quesnel in 2015 thanks to a one-time funding boost of $192,000.

On Friday Premier Christy Clark announced the funding, crediting MLAs Coralee Oakes and Donna Barnett for hammering government to invest in trades training for the region.

“They are both in close touch with both Thompson Rivers University and the College of New Caledonia and pushed really hard for a long time to have more spaces opened up in trades programs,” Clark told the Tribune Friday.

It’s important British Columbians are prepared for the jobs that are coming, she added.

“They saw the need coming in the Cariboo, they were right and that’s why we are funding it.”

For Williams Lake the dollars translate into funding 16 spaces in saw filer 1 to start January 2015, 16 spaces for saw filer 2 in March 2015 and 16 spaces in heavy duty mechanics level 2 starting in May 2015.

While priority will go to B.C. residents, the funding is open to students from anywhere in the country.

“Most of this money will be used by people who live in the region,” Clark said. “Our vision is that people will get training and get a job in the community which they live if they choose to do that.”

Students should not have to move to go to school if possible, especially if a post secondary institute exists in communities such as Quesnel and Williams Lake, she said, suggesting it’s only a matter of funding spaces.

“We thought about how many spaces we needed to create and how many the institutions could accomodate and then talked about what areas of training were needed.”

It’s no secret it’s expensive to offer heavy duty mechanic training because of the equipment, so that’s why only one course is being offered through this round of funding, she explained.

Additional trades training program at the College of New Caledonia campus in Quesnel will be for welding level C with spaces for 16 students starting in February 2015.

The Cariboo was the only community to receive the funding in this announcement, Clark confirmed.

“Today it’s all about the Cariboo,” she said.

The Province said it launched the BC Access Grant so students with financial need can receive up to $16,400 in non-repayable grants for studying in-demand trades at eligible public post-secondary institutions. To instantly see where trades training spaces are available, students can also use an online trades seat finder at: www.tradestrainingbc.ca.