BC faces a looming crisis. In their submission the Select Standing Committee on Finance in 2013 BC Colleges stated that 78% of the job openings will require some form of post-secondary education while currently only 60% of the population has that level of education. This they describe as a skills gap.
Recognizing this the BC government has proposed new funding to address the skills gap that the province faces. Yet faced with budget shortfalls local school boards are cutting programs that are viewed as being outside their core mandate of providing basic kindergarden to Grade 12 education. Recently the Vancouver School Board closed the adult education centre in the city’s west end and in Salmon Arm the local school board axed their continuing education program.
This seems like a contradiction to me and it suggests that maybe now is the time to reorganize our education system. Governments have to start looking at education funding as an investment rather than a cost. BC Colleges claim that they return $3.80 for every $1 of taxpayer financial they get. One major problem that we face is that government is having to use their meagre resources to substitute for the lack of investment in training by the business community.
Maybe it is time for the provincial government to either take the responsibility for adult and continuing education away from local school boards or adequately fund these programs on top of the grants that school boards already receive. Perhaps this could be done in coordination with the BC Jobs Plan and the government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan to make sure that the training matches the needed skills. In Canada the senior levels of government have more funding resources than the locally funded school boards. It is their responsibility to make sure that valuable continuing education courses are available and that BC citizens can continue to be life long learners.