A good, secure job for anyone willing to work is not too much to ask for. It should be the right of all Albertans. This week I’m focusing on Alberta’s labour market and how sensible government can better serve Albertans’ needs and aspirations.
Alberta faces the challenge of an uneven labour market. Our unemployment remains at 6.5%, yet we have labour shortages in many industries, including oil and gas. The challenge for our province is two-fold: find workers for unfilled jobs and find jobs for unemployed workers. While there are limits to what government can and should do to address these issues, one area where the government can do more is investing in education and jobs training.
Alberta Liberals have called for extensive investments in job training and post-secondary education. We believe investing in these areas is key to a healthy economy and good jobs. Seeing the government begin to listen with the “Alberta at Work” plan is a good start. However, the UCP is still making major blunders that worsen our labour market woes.
The UCP has taken a wrong-headed approach to post-secondary education. Their new plan comes on the heels of massive cuts to post-secondary and extreme tuition hikes. The success of the UCP’s new program relies on accessible and high-quality PSE programs, which the UCP are concurrently dismantling with their cuts.
A better program would balance general knowledge, like humanities degrees, and more specific skills development. Unfortunately, new PSE funding models from the UCP threaten to gut more generalized education and only cater to the marketable skills of today. This comes at the expense of more broad-based degrees, which offer valuable and highly transferable skills. The reality is we need both.
The Alberta Liberals and I will continue to push for vibrant post-secondary institutions and financial supports to help all Albertans learn new skills and find gainful employment. Hardworking Albertans deserve nothing less.