Economy & Jobs

B.C. maps future growth through international education and skills training

B.C. maps future growth through international education and skills training
KAMLOOPS - As part of 'Canada Starts Here: The B.C. Jobs Plan', to be released Thursday, Premier Christy Clark announced key steps to increase the number of post-secondary students from other countries studying in B.C.

She also announced how the Province will work with partners to ensure education and training are offered to British Columbians so they can work in the regions where they live and study.

"International students who study in B.C. create thousands of jobs and bring millions of dollars into local economies," said Clark. "Our universities are job creators. We are setting clear targets to dramatically increase the number of international students coming to B.C. These students will also help build strong relationships between B.C., Canada and the rest of the world."

Under the Jobs Plan, the Province is setting a goal of increasing the number of international students by 50 per cent over four years. International students in B.C. currently generate 22,000 jobs and bring an estimated $1.25 billion into the provincial economy. Each 10 per cent increase translates into an estimated 1,800 new jobs and a $100-million boost to the provincial GDP.

To achieve this goal the Province will:

Create an international education council to help build strong relationships in both existing and emerging economies, like China, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
Leverage B.C.'s trade offices to help connect international students to B.C.'s educational opportunities.
Work with communities to prepare them to welcome students from abroad.
Strengthen the Province's Education Quality Assurance.
Send more B.C. students overseas to prepare them to work in a global economy.

"Our educational institutions are renowned for their quality, which is what drives nearly 94,000 students a year to B.C. to further their education," said Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto. "We are currently engaging with institutions and communities on a more targeted, co-ordinated and strategic approach that takes advantage of the growth opportunities and maximizes the economic, social and cultural benefits for B.C. communities to remain successful in what is a hugely competitive environment."

"As a university with nearly two decades' experience, and a student population that reaches every corner of the globe, we know how important having solid international relationships are to building a culturally diverse and stimulating educational experience for all our students," said Alan Shaver, president of Thompson Rivers University. "It's encouraging the Province is taking a leadership role on international education - a strong partnership going forward that works towards top-quality education and good international relationships will position B.C.'s universities and colleges well in an increasingly competitive world."

"TRU and the community of Kamloops have worked together to build a Canadian success story in International Education," said Environment Minister and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA, Terry Lake. "As mayor, I travelled to China on a number of occasions on behalf of TRU and they have been extremely successful, developing relationships with many institutions in close to 100 countries."

"The lessons learned from TRU's success will be valuable as the Province seeks to grow our international education programs," said Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger. "We've all seen the benefits of international education here in Kamloops and this co-ordinated strategy will help us meet the labour demands ahead and help grow our economy."

A full International Education Strategy will be released later this year.

Under the B.C. Jobs Plan, the Province is also taking a multi-pronged approach to ensure funds are spent so that British Columbians get the education and skills training they need to allow them to work and prosper in their home communities. Currently, post-secondary education funding amounts to nearly $2 billion annually and skills development/ job training receives over $500 million annually.

"Under the B.C. Jobs Plan, the Province will ensure funds being spent annually on labour market and training programs are better targeted to meeting regional and industry needs and that Aboriginal people, the fastest-growing demographic in B.C., will be an important part of our future economic planning," said Clark. "This is part of our commitment to ensure British Columbians are able to train and work in the communities where they live."

The Province will:

  • Create Regional Workforce Tables as a new platform for educators, industry, employers, local chambers of commerce, First Nations, labour and others to come together to plan how best to align training programs to meet regional needs. Their input will inform how the Province delivers regionally based skills development programs, including $15 million to further support regional post-secondary institutions in addressing local labour needs.
  • Work in partnership with industry to ensure job demands in key sectors are met - in areas such as forestry, mining, tourism, technology, transportation, agri-foods, services and others. Up to $6 million will help sectors identify their skills and workforce needs.
  • Hold a major conference in the coming months to bring together a wide range of stakeholders to explore ways to meet industry apprenticeship needs.

B.C. is poised to attract new investment into our economy, creating and protecting jobs for families in every region. This is at the heart of 'Canada Starts Here: The B.C. Jobs Plan'. The plan has three pillars to help us deal with today's economic uncertainty and emerge from it stronger than ever:

  • Expanding markets for B.C. products and services, particularly in Asia.
  • Strengthening our infrastructure to get our goods to market.
  • Working with employers and communities to enable job creation across B.C.

To accelerate growth, the B.C. Jobs Plan also leverages the strengths of our most competitive sectors - resource, knowledge and infrastructure - to bring new dollars into our economy from our most important trading partners.

Clark will announce the full B.C. Jobs Plan on Thursday.
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