By Aman Singh, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone in B.C. For people who were already facing barriers to employment, the economic impacts of the pandemic have made it even more difficult to get back on their feet.

That’s why our government has invested in skills training programs and employment services for over 11,500 workers this year. We want to make sure that everyone has the skills and the opportunities they need to find a sustainable job as our economy continues to recover.

For some people, this might mean upskilling, or improving the skills they already have with more training or certifications, so they can have more choices for employment. For others, they might be re-skilling, or training for a role in a new industry that is in-demand. And many young people might be training to join the workforce for the first time.

Across the province, our government has invested over $115 million in provincial and federal funding this year for skills training programs that meet people where they are at. Many of these programs are underway now with others starting soon.

In Surrey, we’re training 20 people to become Crisis Response Mental Health Workers. In Kelowna, 40 youth will receive training in entrepreneurship as they prepare to launch and operate their own businesses. And in Richmond, 15 people will get training and job placements in the printing industry. These are just some examples of the thousands of opportunities that are available.

We want our economic recovery to lift up everyone – not just those at the top. Even before the pandemic, some people in B.C. faced more barriers to finding good jobs. Over the past year and a half, these same folks have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Ensuring equity in our province means sometimes providing different opportunities to help different people achieve the same goal.

We’re supporting a range of programs that are specifically designed to meet the needs of people who traditionally face more barriers, so that everyone has the skills and opportunities that they need to succeed.

Programs are being offered that are tailored to the needs of visible minorities, youth, people with disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, people experiencing homelessness, and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. These programs teach people new skills and help them gain work experience and find a job in their new industry.

In July, for the second consecutive month, British Columbia was the only province in Canada with an employment rate above pre-pandemic levels. We’re making good progress at getting people back to work, but there is still more to do.

By giving people the skills, opportunities, and support they need to find good jobs, we will make our communities and our province stronger than ever.