Nearly a decade after destabilizing trades training, B.C. Liberals admit experiment failed

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(VICTORIA) — The B.C. Liberal government’s decision to review the trades training system nine years after first making a mess of it shows their approach was a complete failure, say New Democrats.

“Nine years after originally dismantling and destabilizing our trades training framework, the B.C. Liberals are admitting their ideological restructuring was a failure,” said New Democrat skills training critic Doug Routley.

“The province should be putting more resources towards improving our completion rate and certifying more tradespeople. Instead, the B.C. Liberals are squeezing funding from our post-secondary institutions and flat-lining funding for trades training while contemplating another round of restructuring. It’s a mess.”

Routley noted that the failure to properly consult experts from both industry and unions before engaging the last round of restructuring is partly to blame for the province’s trades training completion rate falling to an abysmal 33 per cent.

“Instead of bringing everyone to the table, the Liberals have a history of shutting the door in the faces of trade unions and others who have actually had a lot of success at improving completion rates,” said Routley. “The system was much better off before they restructured it the last time. I’m concerned that we’re going to see it continue to degrade with another half-baked B.C. Liberal redesign.”

“This is yet another example of the Liberals expecting to be patted on the back for a fix to a policy mess they created in the first place.”

For more than two years, New Democrat leader Adrian Dix has been calling for the need to reform the Industry Training Authority in effort to improve apprenticeship completion rates. He has pointed to how labour organizations that run apprenticeship programs with completion rates of over 90 per cent are shut out of the training organization’s board.

The B.C. Liberal government campaigned on dubious promises of eliminating debt, balancing the budget, and retaining critical services. B.C.’s New Democrats will hold the government to account for these promises, and fight to protect the services that British Columbians depend on.