A $15 million advertising campaign instated by the B.C. Liberals including running “Hipster is not a Real Job” ads is causing confusion among political adversaries and students alike. The ads are geared towards getting youth excited about pursuing a skilled trade and are currently running on Vancouver public transit.
NDP Skills Training Critic, Gwen O’Mahony questions the judgment and ability of Premier Christy Clark to connect with B.C. youth. “I’m quite confused by it. Obviously she [Premier Christy Clark] doesn’t have the groundwork…get out there, talk to students directly, find out where they’re at and make that a part of the investigative work of policy development. Clearly this shows that she really hasn’t had a lot of time speaking with students. If she [had] even gone to one institution and asked them what they thought of the slogan—I’m sure that the students would have set her straight.”
O’Mahony says “you should never underestimate who you’re speaking to—people don’t like to be talked down to.
“I think just telling people this is how much you’ll get paid if you had a trade or education and this is what you’ll get paid if you don’t is enough,” O’Mahony says.
Trades students at VIU were also confused by the Liberals’ new ad campaign.
“I don’t really understand the point that they’re trying to get across with the slogan. It doesn’t really make that much sense,” says Ryan Crowder, a VIU Electrician student.
“To me, hipster is just a way of dressing; it’s just a style. It’s not a job or someone’s career choice. So to me it I’m not really seeing the message,” Erin Cooper, a VIU Hair Dressing student, says.
O’Mahony and NDP Advanced Education Critic, Michelle Mungall, have been visiting B.C. campuses this fall to listen to the concerns of students and promote the NDP plan to improve access to learning opportunities for British Columbians.
“When I was traveling with Mungall we mainly were talking to students about their experiences and what’s on their minds, and affordability was the number one issue,” O’Mahony says.
She says that within five to ten years 80 percent of all B.C. jobs will require a post secondary education, and that the B.C. government should be examining this statistic more seriously.
“What we are looking at right now is what is known as a deficit of human capital. Usually when we think about economic recovery we always think in terms of financial capital being really important. But human capital in other words the need for skilled employees could be the number one factor stifling economic growth. It’s definitely an issue that the B.C. government should be taking seriously and quite frankly hasn’t. Ten years ago they dismantled the trades and skills training system and if you look at completion rates [for the apprenticeship program] we have a 37 percent completion rate—compare that to Alberta that has 70 percent [completion rate]. This is definitely an area that has been neglected…They really should’ve been more cognitive of what direction they were going or taking a look at the completion numbers and ask themselves the question ‘what’s going on and why is this so low?’ not waiting ten years,” O’Mahony says.
She adds that NDP sees skills training as a “central pillar” of building a strong economy.
“Adrian Dix has been clear that skills training will be a central part of his plan to create jobs, build the economy, and support the middle class,” O’Mahony says. “British Columbians are looking for a government that has a serious plan to invest in our workforce so we can compete in a 21st century global economy that demands skilled workers,” O’Mahony concludes.