More funding will be made available to cover tuition for skills training for the unemployed in Fort St. John and surrounding areas, the Province announced.
“What’s happened is the B.C. government has announced an increase in the tuition cap,” said Jeannette Karasiuk, client services coordinator for Employment Connections/Work BC Employment Service Centre.
“Up to last year, the tuition cap was at $4,000 and is now we can cover costs of $7,500 so it’s really to enhance the skill level of people in our region.”
With a worker shortage limiting local businesses, there has been a push to increase the number of skilled workers in the region.
“Sometimes people won’t return to school because of the cost of tuition,” said Karasiuk.
Coming up for the financial difference may not be an option for an unemployed individual and therefore, they may not be able to return to school for higher education.
“For example, class one drivers license can cost up to $7,000 so with the tuition cap at $4,000 that means that an unemployed British Columbian needs to come up with the remainder. Now with the [new] tuition cap [$7,500], it means there might be more options for them,” noted Karasiuk.
This funding is a positive thing for the community because currently there’s a shortage of skilled personnel, according to Karasiuk.
“There’s a real need for skilled workers in our area. We see that all over with help wanted signs and available positions. Before Christmas we had a 156 job postings on our job board. What it means is that it gives people an opportunity to explore that option for themselves,” she said.
Karasiuk does not believe the need for skilled labor will be decreasing anytime soon.
“We’re experiencing a major skill shortage and that will just continue as the demand and the work increase,”
In order to qualify for this funding, the person must be currently unemployed or facing a possible layoff in the future, according to Karasiuk.
In order to start this process, the person out of work must seek help.
“They would go to their nearest Work B.C. office. For here [Fort St. John] it’s employment connections,” said Karasiuk. “What they do, is they come in and they meet with a case manager and they develop a return to work action plan and if they’re eligible for funding,” she said.
The services through the Work B.C. offices are free and Karasiuk believes that anyone with questions or interest to contact the Fort St. John Employment Connections office.
“I would encourage all people who have any questions about it to come in and speak to one of our resource workers and set up an appointment to see a case manager to see if they’re eligible.”