B.C’s advanced education, skills and training minister met with animation students in Okanagan College’s animation diploma program. -Image: Pixabay

Making a tech connection in Kelowna

Advanced education minister meets with animation program students and tech officials in Kelowna

Good things happen when industry experts, post-secondary institutions and government are all speaking the same language of tech innovation, says Melanie Mark, B.C.’s advanced education, skills and training minister.

“Last month, our government announced 2,900 additional tech seats and delivered on promises to make education more accessible and affordable,” Mark said. “Today, I saw first-hand that government is on the right track to growing tech sector talent with innovative tech programming. It’s exciting to see.”

The minister met with animation students in Okanagan College’s animation diploma program and representatives from Accelerate Okanagan at the Okanagan Innovation Centre, where discussion focused on emerging possibilities in a robust tech market.

The province provided $250,000 in one-time funding for the program’s launch in September, and last month committed to annual funding for a total of 30 spaces in the animation diploma program at Okanagan College. The funding will produce 15 graduates by 2020 and allow Okanagan College to offer the animation program on an ongoing basis at a lower cost to students.

“The fact that this government is adding tech seats is a very encouraging sign,” said Raghwal Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. “The tech sector moves very quickly and demands that entrepreneurs are nimble and flexible, so it helps that sectors are working together to produce the skilled tech workers we will need to keep growing.”

“These animation students are part of our first cohort that will graduate in April 2019,” said Jim Hamilton, Okanagan College president. “Our college engaged with the local animation industry to develop this program, and I’m very proud that we’ll be producing talented animators who will take the skills they learn right here in Kelowna to the world stage in the near future.”

In B.C. there will be 83,400 job openings in tech-related fields in the next decade, says the government and 5,100 will occur in the Thompson-Okanagan region.

Victoria says the new and expanded programs at UBC’s Okanagan campus and Okanagan College will help ensure growing industry demand for highly trained graduates is met.

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