It takes Matthew Reed two to three hours every day to get to and from the Burnaby campus of Simon Fraser University, where he is in his fourth year of studies.
The 21-year-old’s goal is to become a social studies teacher. However, the Maple Ridge resident wishes he had options to study in the community he lives in.
Reed welcomed an announcement by the provincial government Monday morning that it will be provide $250,000 in funding for a needs assessment of post-secondary education and skills training in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows – a first step towards figuring out the demand for post-secondary education in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Lisa Beare, the Minister of Citizen’s Services, made the announcement on behalf of the province in front of Thomas Haney Secondary School, where Reed graduated.
Beare explained B.C.’s latest labour market outlook forecasts more than one million job openings for 2031.
“And 80 per cent of these jobs are going to require an apprenticeship, a diploma, or a degree,” she said.
“Ensuring students have access to these education skills, training opportunities, is essential to building that stronger B.C. that we all want.”
School board vice chair Elaine Yamamoto said some local high school grads opt to take a working gap before continuing on with their studies.
“Having local post-secondary options could mean that they could continue the momentum of their secondary education right here in their own community,” she said.
The announcement was welcome news to Reed, who said he made the decision to take a part-time job in Port Coquitlam – midway between where he attends school and where he lives – just because it is easier for him to get to work after he attends class.
“Being able to live and work in your community is also super huge,” he said.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University will be working in collaboration with other public post-secondary institutions with nearby campuses to conduct an objective and informed assessment of the post-secondary education needs of the residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Douglas College, the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and University of the Fraser Valley will be collaborators.
“Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are two of the fastest-growing communities in the Lower Mainland,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, whose ministry is developing a Future Ready Skills Plan with the goal of helping British Columbians gain the knowledge and skills they will require for jobs of the future.
“This needs assessment is the first step to understand whether students in the area have access to the educational and training opportunities that are needed for them to thrive and be prepared for the economy of the future.”
Reed hopes future students see the benefits, if the needs assessment study comes up with a favourable conclusion for a post-secondary institution in Maple Ridge.
“Students will no longer have to worry about sacrificing their time and their money and no longer suffer from stress or anxiety for missing a bus that takes an hour and a half to get to campus. I hope that instead they have a much more relaxed experience with university,” he said.
It was not clear what a possible post-secondary solution in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows would look like.
Depending on the results of the study, the Ministry indicated it could “explore a range of options of options to expand and enhance access to education”.
The needs assessment is expected to be complete in the spring of 2023.
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