THE PILOT open house for the provincial government’s new jobs plan saw more than 80 people come out to hear what the government had to say and to give their opinion here Jan. 30.
Liberal MLA Moira Stilwell chaired the session and then participants got into groups to look at who needs to be on a regional body that will sort out what’s needed to ensure workers here have the needed skills to take advantage of the jobs coming with all the mining and power line work.
Afterward, Stilwell said the day went well and people here have the knowledge needed to sort out the challenges ahead.
Her presentation helped get everyone on a common footing about what the challenges are for the northwest, she said.
The idea is to put existing resources into post-secondary education and look at the opportunities, she said.
Since the college here has to make cutbacks due to its budget deficit, it will have to sort out its priorities, she said.
That means looking at what partnerships work and what partners the college can work with to get the biggest bang for its buck, she said
“We start looking down here, and we’re not sure of the start date, so how can we help those people (without jobs) and those who are underemployed [to be better employed,” she said.
Aging Baby Boomers create interesting opportunities and there’s a baby boom among native people, she said.
“So how do we make sure they get the opportunities they need and desire,” she said.
“[We] certainly have the people with the know-how and knowledge.”
In the past, people have trained here but then had to leave the city to go elsewhere for a job but it would be more ideal to keep people here.
“People here want to learn, live and work here. People stay where they train,” she said, adding the question is how to get the best match of services, goals and needs.
Part of the discussion was about sustainability and retaining benefits, she said.
“We’re not against big projects but [you] live here and have seen big projects come and go,” she said, adding it’s about how to build capacity here.
The answer to that question is education and skills.
For those people who weren’t able to attend the open house, a provincial website has been set up to provide information and collect comments, said Stilwell.
And that includes saying who everyone thinks should be on the regional jobs preparation table.
The government will then collate the information it receives.
Stilwell didn’t know how long it would take to sort out who sits on the regional body but did say the deadline for posting comments online is Feb. 10.
She believed a budget for job training hasn’t been developed yet.
Stilwell was travelling to Dawson Creek next to hear what the northeast had to say.
If these two regional jobs plan pilots are successful, the same might take place elsewhere.