EARLIER this week, Byrne Creek Secondary School in Burnaby in partnership with Raghwa Gopal, launched a pilot ‘Coding and Robotics Camp.’

As CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, Gopal is a strong believer in early education of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “The youth are our future and we need to look after them. We need to provide them the skills and knowledge they need to grow personally and professionally,” says Gopal.

The goal is to expand the camp to the Okanagan, Vancouver Island and eventually throughout the province.

The camp aims to help students develop the technical skills and knowledge required for success in their future career endeavors. With a focus towards newly migrated and refugee children, the program will help students adapt to the changing labour market and economic landscape. Through learning basic code, tinkering with robotics and utilizing their imaginations, Gopal and Byrne Creek hope to elevate and educate the children to increase their future success and have fun doing it.

Gopal believes that all youth living in B.C. deserve equal opportunities. “British Columbia’s youth come from around the world. This camp is an opportunity to bring young minds together, learn, share ideas, and eventually develop solutions that will grow our Province,” says Gopal.

Byrne Creek Principal David Starr says: “Our aim at Byrne Creek is to offer courses and curriculum that will help students in the new economy and future job market.  Compound that with the demographic of our community, and we have the potential to provide some very inspirational, transformative and practical lessons and skills to our students.”

According to the Information and Communications Technology Council report published in 2015, there are currently 100,000 jobs in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).  By 2019, there is a projected 14,000 new jobs in this sector in British Columbia alone – the report states that there will be insufficient homegrown talent to fulfill all of these jobs. The report also states that there will be 182,000 new jobs in ICT in Canada by 2019.

Since opening in 2005, Byrne Creek Secondary School has been committed to providing a safe, caring, and comprehensive learning environment for its 1,250 students in grades 8–12. The surrounding neighbourhood has a high population of immigrants, many of whom are refugees. More than 60 percent of Byrne Creek’s students have a first language other than English and 51% of Byrne Creek students are not Canadian citizens. Byrne Creek has naturally become a culturally rich hub where students and families come together to share, celebrate, and connect with resources.

Over the last 30 years, Raghwa Gopal has been actively involved in starting, growing and selling numerous businesses. Aside from his current role as CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, Raghwa sits on the boards of numerous businesses and not-for-profit organizations.  His accolades include being a certified Business and Executive Coach, previous winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year award, being named as one of B.C.’s top Technology Innovators and receiving the RBC Canadian Immigrant Award. Furthermore, Raghwa volunteers for Kelowna Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and actively seeks out opportunities to develop the skills, knowledge and abilities of B.C.’s youth.