The cost of no education

A few days ago, The Chronicle Herald reported that Irving Shipbuilding and the province of Nova Scotia signed a deal whereby Irving will contribute $250,000.00 per year for the next 30 years to the NSCC in order to boost diversity, focussing on those “underrepresented in the trades.” According to the article, Premier Dexter was on hand to announce an immediate start to recruitment efforts.

Applause all around. Heady stuff indeed.

Just for a moment, consider the ridiculousness of this situation. Here we have a government that cuts over $65 million from the public education budget because they are in “dire financial straits”, but at the same time hands $240 million plus to a multinational. Then the premier stands by proudly while the same multinational promises to pump a grand total of $7.5 million of that $240 million  into the education system over the next thirty years. All in the name of increasing the pool of diversified workers that company can hire.  A proud day indeed.

I for one am a staunch supporter of the trades. I  see tremendous value in diversity and I will be happy if some of the promised 1500 jobs actually come to town. But an investment into education of $250,000.00 per year represents approximately one tenth of one percent of the $240 million. I am going to assume the Irvings are going to get a slightly better return than that.

We have 10 Universities in our small corner of the world generating upwards of $750 million dollars in export revenue per year, by some accounts. We have an excellent public education system, and a community college system that is the envy of many jurisdictions. Yet, somehow, this government continues to ignore the potential for economic growth this represents. Somehow this government is staying true to its course of cutting education funding, taking over $65 million from the public schools and upwards of $100 million from Universities. For what? To give a multinational a diversity training budget?

Good schools don’t cost money. Good schools make money. They don’t just give people a reason to stay in Nova Scotia, they give people a reason to come here. Education represents a green, renewable resource that has no expiry date.

And that, my friends, will be able to generate revenue long after the shipyards go silent.

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