Kootenay Workforce Development to Boost the Kootenay Economy

Ours is a region that is large and very diverse. The East and West Kootenays, still very much dependent on healthy resource industries, from coal to forestry to hydro to ensure it’s economic viability and growth, encompass a significant portion of the eastern half of British Columbia. Throw expanding technology and tourism sectors into the mix, with the projected retirement of many workers there is an ongoing need for skilled labour throughout the region.

Kootenay Workforce Development putting recommendations of the Kootenay Regional Skills Training Plan into action.

The BC Jobs Plan led to the creation of Regional Workforce Tables (RWT) to bring people together to discuss how to best align existing regional training to meet local employment opportunities, and to ensure British Columbians have access to training and job opportunities in their home communities.

In 2013-14, Selkirk College and College of the Rockies established the Kootenay Regional Workforce Table (KWRT), composed of 20 key leaders representing a range of communities and organizations throughout the region, to survey employers from East and West Kootenay / Boundary communities about workforce development challenges and priorities. As a result, the Regional Skills Training Plan 2013 – 2020 was developed.

Four goals in the Regional Skills Training Plan were identified:

  • Goal 1: Enhance and build regional industry – education – community collaboration.
  • Goal 2: Enhance training related to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • Goal 3: Help lower skilled people upgrade and upskill.
  • Goal 4: Continue to ensure that local training is aligned to workforce needs.

Led by Selkirk College in collaboration with College of the Rockies, the KWD will be headed by two coordinators and directed by the steering committee comprised of representation from throughout the region including school districts, Columbia Basin Trust, businesses, industries, sectors, government and community.

The recently formed steering committee has identified a number of objectives in the plan’s key goals that will form the focus of activity over the next year. The goals include enhancing and building regional industry/education/community collaboration, promoting training related to small and medium sized enterprises, helping lower-skilled people upgrade and upskill, and continue to ensure that local training is aligned to workforce needs.

“The work to date has provided an important direction for what is to come,” says Carol Currie, KWD Coordinator. “With guidance from the steering committee, we will now be able to spend the next two years providing leadership and support for projects that will have an impact in our communities.”