Williams Lake campus receives more than $1 million towards employment training

Courtney Dickson, Roving Editor Ω

After eight months of negotation, TRU’s Williams Lake (TRU-WL) and the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement (LMA) will be putting $1 million towards a new initiative to give adults the basic training needed to compete in today’s job market.

The LMA will cover the cost of tuition, supplies and transportation to those who are in need.

Shirley-Pat Gale, grants officer at TRU-WL, is thrilled to see this program she’s been so eagerly promoting finally come to life.

“We want to take people from where they are and bring them to where they want to be,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for participants to move forward to life goals.”

The program will address all aspects of literacy: numeracy, reading, writing and being able to understand and analyze documents. As well, interpersonal skills, oral communication and thinking skills such as problem solving will be covered.

According to Gale, 42 per cent of people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region do not have the basic literacy needed to be able to compete in today’s economy.

Gale is no stranger to the struggles of literacy — she is dyslexic. Though she has faced the struggles of a learning disability, she said she can’t imagine not being able to read and literacy has become her cause.

“Literacy is my passion,” she said.

A combination of learning disabilities, lack of accessibility to education and the devastating memories left by residential schools contribute to poor literacy in B.C. according to Gale.

“There’s a generational mistrust of education.”

There are 300 spaces are available for those interested in taking the training. Each individual will be assessed and a training plan will be created. Eligible participants include employed, low-skilled individuals and those who are unemployed but do not qualify for employment insurance.

As of now, there are three community coordinators involved. The number of staff TRU-WL hires will be based on how many participants sign up for the course.

Training will be provided at the TRU-WL campus, at specific employers and within First Nations communities.

Sidney Harry, education coordinator for the Tletingox-t’in Band is responsible for all the band’s students in post-secondary and is hopeful that people in the region will take advantage of this opportunity.

“Any experience someone can get means a lot out here,” he said. According to Harry many people work forestry jobs during the summer and are left unemployed in the off-season. With the training TRU-WL will be providing, he hopes to see these people employed year-round.

“It’s always hit and miss with programs here because we’re so far out,” Harry said.