People let their voices be heard, even if only in 140 characters.
A Twitter conversation took place between BC Minister of Jobs, Tourism Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labor Pat Bell and fellow tweeters on Dec. 5. The #skills4BC tweeting started at 8 p.m. and ended an hour later.
After the conversation had took place, Bell explained that for him, this experience was a new and positive one.
“It was the first time for me but it felt successful. All together over the period of the hour, there was 245 different tweets… there was a 122 different contributors and the contributors were from all over the province,” said Bell.
During this conversation, those tweeting had the opportunity to tweet their thoughts and suggestions on three themes.
Bell felt that the session was successful because through Twitter, people from all across B.C. were able to take part.
“When you look at the locations from where contributors came from, it really was a province wide discussion. All the way from Dawson Creek to places like Gibsons. Gibsons is not a place I would normally get too,” said Bell.
During the first portion of the discussion, which focused on rethinking trades and technical education in B.C. elementary and high school, many ideas on how to rethink trades and technical education in B.C.’s elementary and high schools were discussed.
It was brought up that in order for students to properly being to learn a trade, the proper teacher is needed that will be able to lead and guide them.
“Schools and colleges need to be able to attract skilled and experienced teachers with good wages and working conditions,” tweeted @paulreniers.
Bell explained that there are some partnerships that will help with this concern.
“One option is partnerships with industry. [We’re] Already working at Northern Lights in the Peace,” responded Bell.
At the end of theme one, @BCJobsPlan provided this summary of the conversation.
“Variety of high school training programs, when programs should be brought into school and funding for opportunities.”
During phase two of the conversation, the idea of working with employers to encourage more investments in workplace training and recognizing the pressures businesses face – especially small businesses – was discussed.
According to Bell, textbook learning for trades isn’t enough.
“Only 20 per cent of skills training is done in a classroom. We need to make sure learners get hands-on experiences,” tweeted Bell.
Some felt that listening to the industry was the best way to get them onboard with training.
“Trades courses are the most expensive to run. Trade orgs [organizations] would be good partners to have,” tweeted @paulmlbishop.
“Using industry, associations, hands on learning and listening to industries needs,” were included in the summary for theme two provided by @BCJobsPlan.
During theme three, the possibilities available for people to change career paths to transition into the trades or technical careers, no matter their age or background.
According to BC Jobs Plan, for many students, finding an employer who will support their learning is sometimes difficult.
“ACE IT students struggle to find a sponsor, incentives, support and encouragement for employers to hire them,” tweeted @BCJobsPlan.
Bell agreed this is a significant problem.
“Probably, the biggest issue we are facing,” he tweeted.
In addition, Ken brought up that funding can be a problem for those who can not participate in the funding full time.
“I was told by Workbc, I didn’t qualify for train. assist. They only fund full time training,” tweeted @KenBourdeau.
“Well look at the option of Part time training. Also think about student aid,” responded Bell.
“Current skills evaluation, employability assessments and coordinating work experience and the role of construction,” were the topic summarized by @BCJobsPlan.
Overall, Bell expressed that for him, the tweeting session was a success.
“I thought it was a very good representation and I thought the contributions were valuable,” explained Bell.
Reaching so many different people and communities at once, was something that Bell found to be positive.
“I thought one of the real values behind it was people from different parts of the province got to share those ideas – even in larger communities like Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, it’s hard for a minister to get there more than maybe once, maybe twice a year at the most. Even when we do get into communities, it’s typically for half a day or a day so using the Twitter town hall technology, it’s a way for us to reach out,” said Bell.