Jobs were the focus of B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s 2013 election campaign and also of her address at the 2013 State of the Island Economic Summit Wednesday afternoon in Nanaimo.
While she spoke at length about jobs in the liquefied natural gas industry, Clark also talked about the one million job openings between now and 2020. The provincial government announced earlier in the day that Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus would be getting $144,000 from the province to pay for a total of 30 student spaces for the baking program and a trades discovery pilot program.
“We’re going to have to make sure we are investing in our skills training programs across the board,” Clark said. “The employment skills access program at [Vancouver Island University] is incredibly important.
“We need to make sure we reverse engineer our education system so that we’re supplying the grads that our economy needs. Start in post-secondary, figure out how we’re going to fill those needs in the economy. Make sure our apprenticeship programs are seamless so that young people can get straight into the workforce as quickly as possible.”
The economic summit is an annual conference hosted by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance featuring panel discussions and keynote speakers, including Gary Mason, Globe and Mail national columnist, and Ferio Pugliese, president of WestJet Encore.
Clark also announced there would be $15 million in upgrades to the Malahat highway. The government said 2.3 kilometres of median barrier would be added to divide a section of the highway from the Shawinigan Lake Road area to the Malahat summit weather station, a 1 km southbound passing lane extension and improvements to intersections at Whittaker Road and Holker Place. Clark also discussed the long-term vision of the Malahat at a press conference afterwards.
“We’re still working on the transportation strategy I promised during the election campaign and platform … there will be more details on that and I’m sure it will include the Malahat as we get closer to the full comprehensive strategy,” Clark said.
“I didn’t want to wait to invest this $15 million because [the highway] is not safe enough and driving on any road poses dangers but there’s an acceptable level of risk I think and to me this is an unacceptable level of risk.”