Michelle Mungall, Advanced Education critic and MLA Creston-Nelson, said Premier Christy Clark’s education announcements, made Tuesday in Kamloops, fail to deal with the real issues today’s university and college students are facing.
Clark promised the province would work to increase the number of foreign students in B.C. post-secondary schools by 50 per cent within four years, and offer education and training to local students so they can live and work in their own regions.
“She did not address the top issues,” Mungall said.
The first of those is affordability according to Mungall. She said B.C. has the highest interest rate in Canada for student loans with no financial needs-based programs available for students.
A Where’s the Funding’ campaign has been set up by student unions across B.C., including in Prince George.
“She really left B.C. student’s concerns out of the announcement.”
Mungall said she agrees that international students enrich local colleges and universities, however there is already a lot of work being done to attract them.
Mungall added that the Liberal government has cut back on the industry training budget and there are no targeted programs for aboriginal students so they can meet their full potential.
“It’s all vague,” she said, adding the premier didn’t announce anything new.
In the trade sector she said B.C. will soon have a serious shortfall of skilled workers to choose from, and added the current plan doesn’t address how those positions will be filled in the future.
Industry and First Nations leaders need to be consulted, she said.
“Look at what the Industry Training Authority is doing, and support them,” she said. “Labour has a huge role. They’ve been shut out. We need to include them in this process.”
She said there are some really good programs being identified by the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians as well as organizations for engineers and geologists.
“I didn’t see anything by the provincial government to support existing initiatives. I’d like to see specifics, not a re-announcement or duplication.”