Vancouver Island University is one of 15 universities and colleges in BC that will share an investment of 3.7 million dollars from the provincial government towards skills training for the unemployed.
The province is investing the money into the Employment Skills Access (ESA) program at educational institutions to help unemployed British Columbians acquire the skills they need to transition back to the labour force or into further education.
“I am thrilled with this announcement,” said Barbara Park, Administrative Coordinator for the Centre for Continuing Studies on the Cowichan campus of VIU. “I know it will support a number of individuals in making really significant changes in their lives.”
The ESA program, funded through Advanced Education and Labour Market development, is being administered by a consortium of 15 post-secondary institutions across BC (of which VIU is one). The consortium budget totals $3.7M to serve 615 unemployed people in need of basic employability and job-related skills upgrading across the province. Each of the 15 community colleges/universities has been given a funding envelope of approximately $230,000 to reach a targeted minimum of 41 unemployed individuals in their region. The program is designed to provide more direct access to general employment and skills upgrading opportunities for unemployed people in our respective communities.
“This funding is important because it recognizes the value of education in transforming people’s lives,” said Park. “Access to tuition or support gained in employment readiness programs can make a world of difference in moving toward fulfilling work. The ESA program supports people in identifying a training goal based on self-knowledge and awareness of the current labour market. Everyone wins when community members are given a boost to seek training and employment.”
“This is an excellent and important program,” said Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President. “This funding allows us to help our community members gain the necessary skills and training to excel in the workplace. At VIU, program participants can draw on a wide-range of vocational, certificate, and workplace-based training programs to support their education and career goals.”
The Program is open to people who are currently unemployed and who are not currently receiving, nor eligible to receive, Employment Insurance. It is especially relevant for individuals who face financial and training-related barriers. The ESA Program will help close the skills gap for many individuals who are struggling to enter (or re-enter) the job market without the skills and credentials they need to get ahead.
“At VIU, we are in active discussions with community partners and local service providers to promote training access through the ESA Program to help offset the tuition and associated participation costs for eligible participants,” said Lynne MacFadgen, ESA Program Manager for VIU. “I am delighted we have this program to support unemployed people in our region.”
VIU is also customizing training programs to meet the needs of individuals within their communities. VIU representatives have been meeting with representatives from Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council to discuss ways to provide training access for people living in remote First Nations communities. Current focus is also on essential skills for the scallop industry, core courses for marine safety certification, and entry-level carpentry and culinary arts programs.
“ESA is a true access initiative that provides essential skills upgrading, employment preparation and support to enable more people to secure (and retain) gainful employment in these tough economic times,” said MacFadgen. “It offers more direct access to training, closer to home, with training solutions that respond to both individual and community needs.”