I attended a consultation with the Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation, Hon. Ravi Kahlon yesterday. The purpose was to inform the development of Stronger BC initiatives. ASPECT provided input last June regarding creating business development opportunities for people with barriers within this ministry.
As a representative of over 100 employment service providers and trainers throughout the province, I was able to take your concerns forward. With me on the call were ASPECT members (ISSofBC, DiverseCity, Community Futures of BC) and organizations that ASPECT has a connection with, i.e., Small Business BC, Business Improvement Associations of BC, and WeBC (formerly Women's Enterprise Centre). These organizations are doing incredible work supporting their communities through entrepreneurial start-up programs with wrap-around services, micro-lending, business training, and more. Those on the call shared their successful initiatives with the Minister and his team.
The community-based organizations on the call are doing effective work with remarkable outcomes. A few mentioned that many are doing this work with no or limited government funding. It reminded me that the provincial government doesn't need to invent new grant schemes to build businesses; it just needs to support the community-based organizations already working with existing and potential employers, removing barriers to access, and building communities.
I was in Vancouver on Tuesday at a meeting called Skills for Net-Zero Economy, hosted by the Future Skills Centre and the Conference Board of Canada. Panellist Bindi Sawchuk, Assistant Deputy Minister of Workforce Development and Division Responsible for Skills Training in the Ministry of Advance Education and Skills Training, said something that articulated much of what we are seeing now in the labour market. She said that for her generation, we have lived in a demand-driven market, but now we are in a supply-driven market. Simple, concise, and perfectly describes the shift employers are scrambling to make. ASPECT members are helping employers move through this new reality; our job to train and promote those underrepresented in the workforce is more important now than ever.
The catch to contributing to the Province's Stronger BC economic plan is to recognize the economic value of our sector and adequately fund the community-based organizations that are already doing so much with so little. As Tom Conway of Small Business BC put it, "we are the safety net of a crumbling safety net."
Janet Morris-Reade, CEO