Premier announces funding to help high school students slide into tech sector jobs

“The tech sector told us of their talent shortage – and our government has listened,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson

  • Apr. 28, 2015 3:00 p.m.

Targeted funding of $250,000 was announced today by Premier Christy Clark to help students at five public post-secondary institutions in Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver develop coding-related skills for occupations that are in demand by the tech sector.

“British Columbia is home to a growing tech sector that generates about $23 billion in annual revenue and employs around 84,000 people,” said Premier Clark, who made the announcement at Hyper Hippo Games in Kelowna. “Aligning coding skills needed by local tech businesses with post-secondary courses will keep this sector growing, and create more career paths for students who want to stay in B.C.”

Coding is what makes it possible for people to create computer software, apps and websites.

Five public post-secondary institutions will each receive targeted one-time funding of $50,000 to pilot short-term coding training tailored to meet local industry needs and job openings. The five institutions are: British Columbia Institute of Technology, Okanagan College, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

“The tech sector told us of their talent shortage – and our government has listened,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “This pilot will use post-secondary training funds to support job creation and growth as we grow our diverse, modern economy.”

“Technology has been the second-fastest private-sector job creator over the past decade,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services. “What better way to continue on building that strength than by focusing on B.C.’s youth, the future and the backbone to this industry?”

The pilot project supports B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint which was launched in April 2014 as it aligns funding for post-secondary education and training with in-demand occupations.

“The tech sector has sent a loud and clear message that there are job opportunities locally, nationally and internationally,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “With the right training, hands-on experience, and industry contacts, thriving careers are easily within grasp for students from Okanagan College.”

“Succeeding in our industry is very, very hard. Our international success is completely because of the super-awesome Kelowna team,” said Hyper Hippo Games CEO Lance Priebe. “We see the opportunity to make Kelowna the leader in digital entertainment. As a growing tech company, Hyper Hippo is thrilled to see this help today in growing talent in our own backyard.”

To ensure a strong match with job openings in local industry, public post-secondary institutions are being asked to work closely with the British Columbia Innovation Council and its Acceleration Network to determine the focus of the coding-related courses.

“We have seen growth and demand for local talent,” said Accelerate Okanagan CEO Pilar Portela. “Partnerships with post-secondary institutions such as Okanagan College are important because connecting industry needs with what is being taught in the classroom helps develop local, high-skilled, high-tech talent.”

The BC Innovation Council supports new start-ups and entrepreneurs. The BC Venture Acceleration Program helps early stage technology entrepreneurs in British Columbia to commercialize their innovation.

A labour-market outlook study released on March 12, 2015, by the Information and Communications Technology Council projected an estimated demand of more than 182,000 new people to fill jobs across Canada.

Computer programmers and Interactive Media Developers are among the top 60 occupations in the British Columbia 2022 Labour Market Outlook.

—press release provided by provincial government

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