PRINCE GEORGE - The B.C. government has formed a partnership with the United Steelworkers Union (USW) to pilot new skills training for its members in the north, with a focus in the areas of forestry and mining.
A total of $2.9 million is being provided for this Northern Skills Training Pilot over the next 18 months.
This initiative is part of the commitment made in the 'Canada Starts Here: the BC Jobs Plan' to enhance training opportunities to meet regional labout market needs. With major projects underway and planned in B.C.'s north, this partnership helps fill the need for increasingly skilled workers.
As an umbrella union, with over 6,000 members and their employers, the steelworkers union is a large and diverse union which is uniquely positioned to encourage and help workers to upgrade their skills and take advantage of new job opportunities.
According to a 2003 study, more than half of the forestry and mining workers in the north have low literacy and numeracy levels. The pilot will enable the union to offer supports in key areas such as language and literacy training, technology upgrades, numeracy and document use. The essential skills training will be provided by the union through local service providers.
Funding for the Northern Skills Training Pilot is povided through the Canada/British Columbia Labour Market Agreement.
Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation —
"Forestry and mining are key sectors in the B.C. Jobs Plan and this new partnership will allow us to better reach out to the workers in these industries and provide essential skills upgrading. This new pilot is an important step in meeting the challenge of ensuring we have the skilled workers needed to fill existing and future job opportunities in northern B.C."
Frank Everitt, president of United Steelworks 1-24 —
"We're anxiously looking forward to working with our members and their employers to enhance their skills to meet the emerging challenges in our industries with increased technology and growth. We recognize that many new opportunities for employment in Northern British Columbia are expanding with the upswing in economic activity and there will be increasing need for a much larger skilled workforce in this region."
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