Letters to the Editor

Business should play bigger role in training

I find the debate about the role of business in education thought provoking.

When I started school the sale of flavoured milk, chocolate or strawberry, was prohibited.  The parent–teacher association and the school board were too worried about the added sugar and its effect on tooth decay.  Today McDonald’s is catering school lunches and Coca-cola and Pepsi dispensing machines proliferate.  No wonder there are concerns about child obesity and diabetes.  Maybe it’s time for parents and educators to take a stand again.

After I left high school I was told that if I wanted to learn business and finance I should get a job in a bank.  In those days one bank would not hire you if they knew you had worked previously for a different one.  They wanted to train you, or indoctrinate you, in their own systems and procedures.  Today you have to have a certificate for a college or university.  The employee is paying for his training rather than collecting a salary while being trained by his employer.

At one time the largest privately owned and operated educational institution in British Columbia was the telephone company.  Not only did they train their own electronic technicians but they also offered courses in business management, communications and public relations.  Other companies even paid to get their employees trained there.   These courses have all been shifted to our universities and colleges where the students must pay their own tuitions.

For decades companies have failed to train their own employees.  When I was working in the sawmill , all the labouring jobs were held by those born in Canada while all the higher paid tradesmen, the machinists, the millwrights, the electricians, the pipefitters, etc. were all German and Italian immigrants.  The companies would rather import already trained people than train them themselves.  The union fought for years to get an apprenticeship program for their current employees.  We are still building bridges and running mines with migrant labour.

Something as important as education should not be left to charity or the beneficence of others.  If it is so necessary to our society the resources should be found to finance it.  The question should not be how much a local car dealership contributed to a school sports team but how many apprentice mechanics and parts people they are training and how many accountants are they articling with their firm.  Maybe businesses should be taxed more to pay for the education they are demanding.

Clifford Roulston

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