SFU president cautions province on trades focus

Don't starve universities to fund blue collar training: Petter

Simon Fraser University president Andrew Petter speaking before the Surrey Board of Trade April 1.

Simon Fraser University president Andrew Petter is cautioning the province against a major shift in advanced education budget dollars from universities to trades training.

Petter spoke to members of the Surrey Board of Trade on Tuesday, arguing skills shortages are actually forecast to be more acute for college- and university-trained workers in the years ahead than in trades.

“We’re in a highly competitive global knowledge-based economy,” Petter said. “Our capacity to exploit our natural resource base depends upon having not only skilled labourers, but having the kinds of engineers, entrepreneurs, managers and business people to market and deliver those resources in a way that exacts the maximum value.”

He’s the latest university administrator to express trepidation with the government’s focus on trades as it aims to launch a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

“We should not be engaged in a zero sum kind of battle for dollars,” Petter said later in an interview.

Petter said he emerged from a meeting with advanced education minister Amrik Virk hopeful that the province understands more student seats are needed in all sectors.

He said the province’s expected labour shortage in skilled trades workers is “relatively small” compared to the much larger shortage of people with college and university credentials.

“Because there’s a certain immediacy and tangibility around the trades issue there’s a danger that we lose sight of the fact that we’re going to need the full spectrum of post-secondary graduates.”

Petter outlined plans to pursue an up to $300-million capital expansion of SFU’s Surrey campus in the city’s burgeoning city centre over the next 10 years.

New offerings would fall in three major areas – energy systems engineering, health technologies and creative technologies, including game design.

Petter said the Surrey expansion strategy is underpinned by the large youthful demographic in the area as well as the city’s rapid growth.

“Here in Surrey it would be tragic to see such a large potential contributing labour force instead undervalued and not given the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Just Posted

Vancouver Giants blank Rockets

Langley-based G-men take over top spot in the west

Kodiaks begin best-of-seven series strong

The Kodiaks opened their quarter-final playoff series by defeating the Delta Ice Hawks on home ice.

Heritage proposal for Aldergrove fire hall at a ‘standstill’

The Alder Grove Heritage Society faces a delay in knowing the fate of the fire hall due to tenants slated to live in the building until 2020.

VIDEO: Langley hosting high-flying fun at annual gymnastics tournament

Action runs Friday through Sunday at the Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.

Langley Secondary students rehearse upcoming musical comedy

The Langley Secondary Musical Theatre Company presents Guys and Dolls on Feb. 22.

VIDEO: Langley hosting high-flying fun at annual gymnastics tournament

Action runs Friday through Sunday at the Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.

Vancouver crash leaves driver dead, 2 in hospital

Police are investigating what happened in 2-vehicle crash

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Stabbing at Lower Mainland banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Most Read