While B.C.'s latest Labour Market Report forecasts more than one million job openings in the next decade, many of these jobs remain unfilled as Canada undergoes declining labour force participation rates. Employers are challenged with skilled employee retention and recruitment. The labour shortage is only expected to intensify as the working population ages, labour reshuffles, and the ripple effects of the pandemic and inflation persists.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology's (BCIT) recent launch of Flexible Learning signals an evolution in how industry, government, and post-secondary can collaboratively build an agile workforce that supports the economic resilience of British Columbia and beyond.
"Accelerated demographic shifts in the workforce and economic challenges across industries have heightened the need for quick and relevant upskilling to fulfill in-demand jobs. BCIT Flexible Learning answers this need," says Jennifer Figner, Interim Vice President, Academic, BCIT. "Ultimately, flexibility reduces barriers to education and allows learners to choose and customize the post-secondary experience that's right for them today."
Flexible Learning: Reducing barriers to upskilling for the workforce
Flexible Learning encompasses a suite of learning options – part-time courses, microcredentials, industry services, and free online learning courses – that allow learners to choose when, where, how, and what they learn. Learning is short, accredited, industry-focused, customizable, and self-paced so learners make the most out of their time and resources.
Learners are able to start with one course and if it's the right path, take more courses and ladder credits towards earning a program credential – whether that's a certificate, diploma, bachelor's degree, or even a master's degree. This is particularly beneficial during times of economic challenge as learners can seek a shorter-term accreditation for the skills and competencies needed to ladder into in-demand jobs – rather than investing more resources into in a longer program.
This "a la carte" approach allows learners to pay and take what they need – one step at a time – while promoting equity in education and contributing towards a diverse workforce.
In some cases, learners have obligations to fulfill, such as being a homemaker during the day or working part-time. In other cases, they may have received their professional training in a foreign country, and need to complement their previous schooling in order to align with Canadian requirements. Regardless of the circumstance, Flexible Learning provides convenient access for learners to expand on the breadth and depth of their skills so they can take their careers to the next level.
The Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Fundamentals Microcredential launched jointly with BCIT earlier this year reflects the success of a flexible learning option that responds to industry needs. Through the ESG Microcredential, organizations have been able to quickly upskill their talent to help advance towards a regenerative economy, as well as to embrace relevant opportunities for innovation.
By reducing barriers to upskilling, more learners have the opportunity to pursue pathways to employment. In turn, this contributes towards fulfilling the skills gap in B.C. and in building an agile workforce that is attractive for business and economic development.
For nearly 60 years, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has been delivering flexible, relevant, and future-proof education that prepares learners to provide applied solutions to industry challenges. As one of BC's largest post-secondary institutes with five campuses, 300+ programs, and over 45,000 students enrolled each year, BCIT connects education, industry, and government in building an agile workforce with sustained and meaningful impact. Learn more at www.bcit.ca.