MELANIE Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, announced on Tuesday that the tech sector will benefit from thousands of additional tech-related spaces at public post-secondary institutions throughout British Columbia.
The tech sector in B.C., with more than 10,200 businesses, is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the provincial economy, generating $29 billion in revenue and employing over 106,000 people. The demand for skilled tech workers presents immense opportunities for British Columbia.
“We’re helping students in British Columbia by improving access to education with thousands more tech spaces that include degree, diploma and certificate programs,” said Mark. “Our vibrant tech sector supports good-paying jobs, like computer programmers, engineers and information system analysts. We are investing millions of dollars in the future creators of an innovative, strong and sustainable 21st-century economy.”
In total, British Columbia will add about 2,900 tech-related spaces that are expected to result in 1,000 additional grads per year by 2023. Total provincial start-up funding this year is $4.4 million and is expected to increase to $42 million.
“The number 1 concern for B.C.’s tech sector is access to skilled talent. By creating 2,900 new student spaces, your government is working to expand B.C.’s homegrown talent pool to support the sector’s continued growth,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “An increase in skilled tech workers will also boost B.C.’s diverse manufacturing sector, helping to create more jobs and increase exports that drive our economy.”
The 2,900 additional spaces are in new and expanded programs that include the following in the Lower Mainland:
- 440 spaces in undergraduate and graduate-level sustainable-energy engineering degrees at Simon Fraser University (SFU) Surrey
- 624 spaces in computer science and biomedical and manufacturing engineering degrees at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver campus)
- 300 spaces in information-technology diplomas in cyber security, tech arts and new media at British Columbia Institute of Technology
- 40 spaces in a mechatronics and advanced manufacturing-technology diploma at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Mark made the announcement during a visit to the Sustainable Energy Engineering Building under construction at SFU Surrey.
At SFU Surrey, there will be an additional 320 undergraduate spaces and 120 graduate spaces by 2021-22, expected to result in 140 additional graduates per year by 2023.
“This important investment will enable Simon Fraser University and other post-secondary institutions to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, and that British Columbia requires to build a strong, sustainable economy,” said Andrew Petter, President, SFU. “The support provided to SFU, specifically, will create a program that will help position B.C. as a global leader in clean-tech and sustainable energy.”
Investment decisions were made based on increasing programming that is in high demand from industry, enhancing pathways for transfer students, addressing regions of high demand and additional niche programming to build on the post-secondary education ecosystem supporting the tech sector.
“Today’s announcement is great news for B.C.’s tech sector. Access to talent has emerged as the single greatest barrier to growth for B.C. tech companies and for companies in all sectors that embrace technology to accelerate the growth of their businesses,” said Jill Tipping, President and CEO of the BC Tech Association. “By proactively planning for a tech-centric future with these new learning spaces, we enable people to develop diverse skills and not only graduate, but thrive in high-paying, progressive jobs, all around British Columbia.”
Tech-sector workers earn weekly average salaries almost 85% higher than the average wage in B.C.
“The Government of British Columbia’s support for training of skilled workers is key to a vibrant and innovative economy in the province,” said Alejandro Adem, Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director. “We look forward to working with local businesses and post-secondary institutions to create training and research opportunities to ensure up-and-coming tech innovators can easily transition into the job market.”
About 83,400 tech-related job openings in B.C. – such as computer programmers, information system analysts and software engineers — are expected by 2027.
“This announcement renews and reinforces my confidence that B.C. is the right place to grow a global-technology business,” said Laurie Schultz, President and CEO of ACL. “Having the right people with the right skills is the number one thing all businesses look for when establishing themselves in a region, and with the projected growth of B.C.’s tech sector, investment in education will be the key to pushing that growth forward.”
“Our growth is largely dependent on access to a local, well-educated workforce,” noted Edoardo De Martin, Microsoft Vancouver. “The industry is at a critical point in its transformation where investment in post-secondary education is key to continued success, and we applaud this new initiative by the B.C. government.”
Post-secondary institutions in B.C. award more than 10,000 credentials annually in programs that support the tech sector: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Over the next four years, the Province will invest more than $200 million in tech- and science-related post-secondary capital projects. The five-storey, 15,000-square-metre Sustainable Energy Engineering Building at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus will allow the university to expand its research in the energy, hydrogen and electricity sectors, in addition to supporting SFU’s sustainable-energy engineering degrees. It is funded by the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, Province of B.C., SFU and private donors for a total project value of $126 million.
Regional seat allocations will be announced shortly.