The British Columbia government is investing $2.2 million to support greater Indigenous participation in the province’s vibrant and growing technology sector.
Developed by the First Nations Technology Council, the Bridging to Technology program provides Indigenous people with an industry-relevant program that will enhance their digital skills and strengthen their ability to use technology to grow local opportunities and build a stronger economy.
This new investment will support over 150 Indigenous people to get the skills and credentials they need to grow businesses and participate in a flourishing and diverse technology and innovation sector.
Indigenous people from around B.C. will have the opportunity to take part in a 14-week certificate program in partnership with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. The certificate program will ensure that those with an interest in technology will have the space to explore regionally specific opportunities in the sector, while developing their skills and determining where they will best align.
The classroom training is followed by a paid six- to eight-week work placement. Once completed, participants have the choice to either use the skills they have developed to move into a career or continue their training toward an advanced training stream in one of six areas: office professional, computer technician, coder/developer, communications officer, software tester or resource technician.
The program is also open to technology sector Indigenous professionals who are already employed. The core of the office professional development program is Microsoft Office Specialist certification, delivered in partnership with Seabird College. This focus and certification acknowledges those already using technology who require professional development upgrading.
Technology is used in every industry and professionals with enhanced digital skills are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities across a diverse range of sectors and within Indigenous communities in B.C.
In 2016, B.C. supported the Bridging to Technology’s pilot program through the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund. The fund was started in 2015 and has been providing up to $10 million annually over three years for Indigenous skills training.
In March 2017, B.C. held the #BCTECH Summit, which attracted over 5,000 business and technology leaders, investors, students and entrepreneurs to discuss cutting edge innovations in the B.C. technology sector.
The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of British Columbia's vibrant technology sector and strengthen B.C.'s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development through graduate seats, co-ops and coding, as well as data innovation and market access for tech companies to drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“We want to see Aboriginal people benefit from the skilled jobs available in B.C.’s high tech sector. To make that happen, we need to open doors to skills training and employment opportunities that will benefit aspiring and current tech professionals.”
Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services –
“To ensure our technology sector continues to grow and innovate, it is vital that we engage with trainees at all stages of their development. By having an entry level stream and a professional development stream, Bridging to Technology provides a pathway to many more Aboriginal people to access the high paying jobs in our innovation economy.”
Sam Sullivan, MLA for Vancouver-False Creek –
“The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan and to building a strong diversified economy. Digital skills are in demand in every industrial sector and through programs like Bridging to Technology we want to give even more Aboriginal people the opportunity to build a career in the industry of their choice.”
Tyrone McNeil, president, First Nations Technology Council –
“The technology sector is moving fast and we want to ensure that Indigenous people have the digital skills to be at the forefront of new developments. Our youth are the province’s fastest growing demographic, so there’s a real opportunity there to have an Indigenous cohort who’ll be tomorrow’s leaders in technology businesses.”
Wade Smith, Bridging to Technology student –
“The Bridging to Technology web development program is both very challenging, yet extremely rewarding. Every day is a new aspect and scope of the coding world, and I’m enjoying every step. I plan on using these newly acquired skills to create a successful career as a developer.”
- The First Nations Technology Council is a not-for-profit, social organization mandated by the 203 First Nations communities in British Columbia and endorsed by the First Nations Summit to lead the advancement of digital technologies in First Nations communities.
- A key target of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint is to increase Aboriginal workforce participation by 15,000 new Aboriginal workers by 2024.
- Since 2015, more than 2,400 Aboriginal people have received training through programs supported by the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund.
- The technology sector directly employs more than 100,000 people, and wages for those jobs are 75% higher than B.C.’s average.
- Employment in the tech sector rose 2.9%, surpassing B.C.’s overall employment growth of 2.5% and national tech sector employment growth of 1.1%.
- Wages and salaries in the tech sector hit a new high for the fifth consecutive year, climbing 4.5% to over $8.4 billion.
- B.C. outperforms all other provinces in venture capital investment per capita, with $450 million invested in 2015.
- The tech sector produced approximately $26.3 billion in revenue in 2015, a rise of 4.8% from 2014.
- Revenue climbed in both the manufacturing and service sectors, growing 3.4% and 5.3% respectively.
- B.C. has seen a 1.9% rise in the number of new technology companies in 2015, growing to over 9,900 businesses.
- The gross domestic product (GDP) of B.C.’s tech sector expanded 2.4% in 2015, contributing $14.1 billion to B.C.’s overall economic output.
First Nations Technology Council: www.technologycouncil.ca/
#BCTECH Strategy: bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/
#BCTECH Summit bctechsummit.ca/
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/
BC Jobs Plan: bcjobsplan.gov.bc.ca/
BC Innovation Council: bcic.ca/
Premier’s Technology Council: premierstechnologycouncil.ca/
Profile of the British Columbia Technology Sector: 2016 Edition: http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/BusinessIndustry/HighTechnology.aspx