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Better supports will help people get trained for high-demand careers

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:08 PDT, Tue July 26, 2022

People looking to advance their skills training will receive a boost through a new program that will help them more smoothly transition from academic upgrading to high-demand career programs.

People will be able to access 26 new pathway programs at 11 public post-secondary institutions throughout B.C. this coming school year. The pathway programs are a new Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning initiative that will help address labour shortages by better supporting students in completing the pre-requisites they need to transition directly into high-demand post-secondary programs of their choice.

"We're committed to making it easier for British Columbians to get ahead," said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. "We've already removed the fees for Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning, but we heard that people needed better supports to help them make the jump from there to post-secondary training. The new pathway programs will make it easier for British Columbians to get the skills they need for good-paying careers and help us train more people to address the labour shortages we're facing."

Traditional academic upgrading programs are delivered separately from post-secondary programming and are general in scope. Consultation with public post-secondary partners in fall 2021 showed that some students still struggle to make the transition to post-secondary training, even after they've completed their post-secondary pre-requisites, such as English, math, and science, through traditional Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning programs.

The pathway programs offer a new approach to obtaining those pre-requisites. They will start the process of integrating students into post-secondary life and are tailored to students' target careers or disciplines to set them up for success. For example, an English Language Learning program would focus on the language skills a student would need to enter a trades or technology program. The programs will also offer career guidance and additional academic support for students when applying to or completing the post-secondary career program.

The overall goal is to increase learners' success and improve their access to post-secondary programs related to high-priority careers in the skilled trades, the technology sector, early childhood education, and health care, including nursing and allied health jobs.

"Many students experience social, educational, and financial barriers that impact their ability to further their post-secondary studies," said Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers. "These pathways provide support and opportunities for them to access the courses required for entry into high-demand programs and to establish meaningful careers."

The Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning Pathways programs are funded by a $3.5-million investment from the province. The recipient public post-secondary institutions will offer unique approaches to these pathways, each reflecting their individual regions, student population, and programming.

"The pathways initiative is an exciting opportunity for people who may not have seen themselves attending post-secondary or who have struggled with more traditional approaches to upgrading," said Jeannie Maltesen, dean of academic and career preparation at Vancouver Island University. "It provides unique supports for obtaining necessary pre-requisites for post-secondary program entry and sets students up for success in programs that lead to careers in health care, early childhood education, and technology. Pathways is a gamechanger for anyone who is thinking about returning to school."

The funding builds on government's efforts to address labour shortages and ensure British Columbians have access to the education and training required to improve their lives and succeed in the workforce. Government announced $3.4 million for Community Adult Literacy Programs, which typically include one-on-one tutoring and small-group instruction to support learners in improving their reading, writing, math, and digital skills.

Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning students come from all walks of life, including newcomers to Canada and Indigenous Peoples. Public post-secondary institutions that received the one-time pathway programs funding include the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT); Camosun College; Capilano University; Coast Mountain College; North Island College; Nicola Valley Institute of Technology; Okanagan College; Selkirk College; Thompson Rivers University; University of the Fraser Valley; and Vancouver Island University.

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