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Op-ed: Minister Shirley Bond on B.C.'s LNG opportunities

July 07, 2014

By Shirley Bond

Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour

We are facing incredible economic opportunities here in British Columbia. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector alone has the potential for nearly $175 billion in industry investment and up to 100,000 jobs in B.C. over the next decade.

LNG jobs and other in-demand occupations in B.C.’s growing economy mean an increasing need for more and higher skilled workers. More than 78 per cent of future jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 43 per cent will be in trades and technical occupations.

Filling these jobs will be no small task, but we have a plan – B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint.  Through the Blueprint we are re-engineering our education system, from kindergarten through to post-secondary training and beyond, to ensure B.C. youth and B.C. workers are first in line for the jobs of the future.

Government invests $7.6 billion annually in education and skills training. This year through the Skills for Jobs Blueprint, we are shifting more than $160 million of these funds to a data-driven labour market approach that ensures training dollars and programs are targeted specifically to jobs in demand.

In four years, this funding will reach nearly $400 million annually.  And over the span of our 10 year plan, this represents almost $3 billion redirected and refocused to help train people for high-demand jobs across a spectrum of occupations. For B.C. businesses, this will mean the ability to access a highly skilled labour pool as well the opportunity to help shape how skills training is designed and delivered in the workplace.   

Ultimately, we want to ensure the B.C. business community can benefit from the opportunities that LNG and other sectors of our growing resources economy have to offer. Education and skills training is a critical piece of the plan, but our vision also includes supports that directly connect major investors in LNG and other industries to everything B.C.’s business community has to offer.

Government’s LNG-BuyBC program will do just that. The program will help link B.C.-based goods and services with companies looking to build their projects in our province by providing a variety of resources to foster business-to-business connections.  

LNG-BuyBC will also co-ordinate with other organizations focussed on procurement to ensure LNG proponents have a single online resource that helps them locate B.C.-based businesses during the planning, construction, and operational phases of their projects. 

Maximizing our competitive advantage in LNG, and our economy as a whole, depends on building a highly skilled workforce and a vibrant business community.  B.C.’s Blueprint and LNG Buy-BC invite the participation of all partners – including employers, industry, educators, labour and others -- to help shape the future of our province and create long-term, well-paying jobs that strengthen our families and communities. 

Shirley Bond is B.C.’s Minster of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. On July 23, 2014, Bond will deliver a keynote address at The Vancouver Board of Trade on how government is re-engineering education and training to meet the needs of our growing economy — particularly in the LNG sector. To register for the event, click here.

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