UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Education, training, and non-metropolitan development Courtney, Lyle George


Many non-metropolitan areas in British Columbia experienced chronic instability in the resource extraction economy on which they traditionally relied. Beginning in the early 1980s, shifts in employment and the organization of work led to persistent socioeconomic turbulence. Despite the range of development, education, and training programmes available, efforts to return these regions to stability had only sporadic success. In the late 1980s, policy reviews led to the introduction of initiatives for greater local self-direction over development, complemented by partnering in programme delivery, and shifts in educational funding towards targeted groups. This study examines certain interactions between post-secondary education and development programmes in non-metropolitan British Columbia from 1980 to 1996. Using a living systems view, and drawing on studies in geography and adult education, a model of resources needed by outlying regions for successful development was constructed. The model was used to examine socioeconomic changes, policy changes designed to foster sustainable development, and shifts in emphasis in post-secondary education and training programmes, as they affected the study areas. The main conclusions were: (1) there were distinct socioeconomic differences among non-metropolitan regions; (2) in some, significant internal migration resulted in opportunities to create new work, and so achieve more self-directed development, and (3) the implementation of local sustainability and partnering did not reach levels expected, in part due to contradictory demands for innovation and cost cutting. Supporting evidence was derived from combining (a) an extensive review of census indicators over the province and in four selected case study regions, with (b) a series of some 100 semi-structured interviews with resident stakeholders who were involved in directing, managing, and delivering educational, training and community development services, and (c) a review of contemporary socioeconomic plans and profiles. The empirical data was analyzed using a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis, which featured the application of principles of grounded theory and the method of triangulation, widely used in social sciences. Case study communities were those that were successfully returning to stability by means of the benefits flowing from internal migration combined with opportunities to create new work. The methods of investigation developed here can be applied to other situations where communities are trying to change their prospects from within. The living systems view is appropriate for broadly-based research into local community development.

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