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Tech ed part of 10-year skills plan: jobs ministry

B.C.'s Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Minister said her ministry is communicating with a high school technology education teacher because the secondary program is key to government developing a 10-year skills plan for the province.

Last week, The Tyee reported the provincial ministry and the federal Ministry of Employment and Skills Development have been calling Mike Howard, a technology education teacher at Revelstoke Secondary School and president of the B.C. Technology Education Association, an arm of the BC Teachers' Federation. Howard said he wasn't sure why the ministries were contacting him, but that "it's just about every day that I'm getting a phone call from one or the other about ideas."

In an emailed statement to The Tyee, a spokesperson for Employment and Skills Development said they were contacting Howard "to obtain (the BC Technology Education Association's) perspective on technology education courses, shop programs and barriers to youth entering education in the trades."

At the time Jobs, Tourism and Skills and Training Minister Shirley Bond could not meet The Tyee's deadline. But in an emailed statement today, Bond said her office is contacting Howard because Premier Christy Clark has mandated the ministry work with the ministries of education and advanced education to develop a 10-year skills development, bringing students from high school into skilled trades training.

"The mandate of my ministry is to find and close any gaps in educational opportunities that exist in our province, by making sure students are the focus of our skills training agenda," she said.

Bond said announcements regarding the 10-year plan are coming soon, building on the announcement Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk made last month about "$1.8 million in one-time funding for 456 foundation seats in targeted trades training (programs) at 10 public post-secondary institutions."

The three ministries are also working together to review the Industry Training Authority, the crown corporation that monitors trades training in B.C. That review is expected later this month. Bond says each step is part of the government's preparationLINK: for the estimated 1 million new jobs in B.C. by 2020--43 per cent of which are expected to be trades or technical jobs.

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee Solutions Society. Follow her on Twitter.

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