Hard stuff

FOR the second time, provincial jobs minister Pat Bell has promised to figure out why the northwest jobless rate stubbornly remains high.

FOR the second time in as many months, provincial jobs minister Pat Bell has promised to have his officials hunker down with ones from Statistics Canada to figure out why, in the face of a seeming economic revival, the northwest jobless rate stubbornly remains in the double digits.

It’s a tricky situation. Mr. Bell can’t say he doesn’t trust the numbers. If he did, it would cast doubt on a provincial jobless rate the provincial Liberals say has drastically improved over the last year and is about the only thing the government has going for it leading into the spring 2013 election.

If Mr. Bell has to admit the numbers are right, then that pretty much is an admission that a decade-plus of Liberal education plans has failed the northwest.

But this should be about people and not political maneuvering.

It must be obvious to everyone – including Mr. Bell though he has yet to state it fully – that there is a yawning gap between education levels in the region and the kind of skills needed to participate in the kind of projects underway or about to start.

It would be foolish and naive to think every jobless person in the region will or can step into a vacant position immediately.

But doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t acknowledge the gap exists and call upon every resource to span that gap as quickly and as humanly possible.