Image: UBCO

Image: UBCO

Tech funding announced for Kelowna post-secondary institutions

UBCO and Okanagan College are getting funding to expand their tech programs

Tech funding has been announced from the provincial government for UBCO and Okanagan College.

New provincial funding will increase students’ access to tech-related programs at UBCO’s campus and Okanagan College, giving them access to the skills needed to succeed in B.C.’s rapidly growing tech sector, according to the province.

“Students deserve a government that works with them, providing the right opportunities that empower them to innovate, create and excel in the tech jobs of the future,” said Melanie Mark, minister of advanced education, skills and training. “Okanagan students have exciting opportunities to access tech-related programs, from animation to engineering and computer science.”

Related: Entrepreneurs, tech to benefit from Enhanced Acceleration programs

UBC is receiving $600,000 in startup funding, in part to support new manufacturing-engineering and expanded computer-science degree programs at its Okanagan campus. These will result in 96 seats per year by 2022, 2023 and are expected to produce 24 additional graduates per year by 2023, according to the province.

“We’re grateful for the province’s investments in students in the Okanagan and Vancouver, which will enable UBC to deepen the talent pool for data scientists, software engineers, manufacturing innovators and biomedical researchers in B.C. companies,” said Santa J. Ono, president of UBC. “We will continue to work with industry, government and our post-secondary partners to ensure students are best prepared for high-paying, in-demand careers in tech fields, including computer science and biomedical and mechanical engineering in B.C.”

Related: Tech minister meets with industry representatives in Kelowna

Further to the one-time funding of $250,000 last year to support the program’s launch in September 2017, the province will provide annual funding for a total of 30 spaces in the animation diploma program at Okanagan College. This funding will produce 15 graduates per year by 2020 and will allow Okanagan College to offer the animation program on an ongoing basis at a lower cost to students.

The next intake of animation students at Okanagan College is planned for September 2018.

“Technology will play a big role in our future economy,” said Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “Funding innovative programming such as the animation diploma at the college will result in greater access to educational pathways that will lead directly to jobs in our booming Okanagan tech sector. The B.C. government’s investment in this program will yield positive results for employers, industry partners and of course the students who will now be able to take this program.”

Of the 83,400 job openings in tech-related fields in the next decade, 5,100 will occur in the Thompson-Okanagan region. The new and expanded programs at UBCO and Okanagan College will help ensure growing industry demand in the region for highly trained graduates is met, said the province.

Total startup funding this year is $4.4 million, and is expected to increase to $42 million as programs ramp up over the next several years.

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