New grads and co-ops drive talent development in B.C.’s tech sector

News Release

Vancouver, March 14, 2017
Speaking at the sold-out second annual #BCTECH Summit, which more than 5,000 delegates will attend, Premier Christy Clark today announced a significant increase in the number of tech-related grads and co-op placements throughout the province to drive tech talent development and support continued growth in  British Columbia’s thriving technology sector.

Fred Kaiser Building, UBC

“B.C.’s tech community has told us their number-one priority is making sure British Columbians have the talent and skills they need so the sector can continue to grow and thrive,” said Premier Clark. “The revised BC Tech Strategy is about giving British Columbians in all corners of the province every opportunity to build careers in tech.”

B.C. will become a leader in the innovation economy by working to increase the number of tech-grads by 1,000 per year by 2022. Post-secondary tech degree program co-op placements will be doubled to over 1,400 students annually, and the Mitacs student research program will be expanded by two-thirds to over 800 internships annually.

The Province will take the following steps to further grow B.C.’s supply of tech talent:

  • Create a new B.C. Science and Technology Research Chairs program to support leading researchers and their teams of graduate students in work relevant to the technology and the life sciences sub-sector.
  • Work with the federal government to reduce the time and costs of immigration processes, while increasing B.C.’s share of immigrants with technology skills.
  • Enhance specialized and targeted tech skills-training programs for British Columbians who are unemployed and under-represented in the sector.
  • Continue to work with the First Nations Technology Council on their comprehensive skills-development program, Bridging to Technology.

To ensure B.C. has a climate that supports investment and growth, government will:

  • Expand eligibility for the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (IDMTC) to include augmented reality and virtual reality products designed to entertain, subject to the approval of the legislature. Work with B.C.’s  technology industry to ensure that the IDMTC is available to commercial augmented-reality and virtual-reality opportunities as well.
  • Increase B.C.’s trade presence in Seattle and Silicon Valley to attract investment to B.C., and help B.C. companies connect with venture capitalists, skilled tech workers, strategic partners and investors, and new customers.
  • Continue to work with Washington State on the Cascadia Corridor to create regional economic opportunities for innovation in the tech sector.
  • Create a Centre for Data-Driven Innovation in B.C., a trusted and secure platform to make new discoveries with government data, support better public policy, and transform and personalize government services for all British Columbians.

Several new initiatives are focused on supporting market development opportunities:

  • Create a Procurement Concierge Service to act as a matchmaker between government’s needs and tech companies’ solutions.
  • Establish a new Innovative Ideas Fund to encourage the purchase of innovative technology products.
  • Pilot a “Startup in Residence” program to provide a platform for small companies to work with government to test and co-develop solutions to public-sector challenges.
  • Expand the Export Navigator pilot program from four to six rural regional communities to help more companies develop export capacity and gain access to new markets.

The new initiatives announced today are aimed at achieving four bold aspirational goals for B.C. tech:

  • Job growth in the tech sector to remain above the provincial average and reach 120,000 by 2020.
  • Investment in the B.C. tech sector to be increased by up to $100 million by 2020.
  • To become a leader in the innovation economy, B.C. will work to increase the talent pool by 1,000 grads per year by 2022, with increased graduates in regions throughout the province.
  • The fourth bold goal is for the number of tech companies with 10 or more employees to increase by 20% by 2021.

The #BCTECH Strategy, released in January 2016, 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 new curriculum and coding, and market access for tech companies that is driving innovation and productivity throughout the province.


Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services –

“B.C. tech is changing the world and creating new opportunities, including new jobs fuelled by five straight years of sector growth. Evolving initiatives in the #BCTECH Strategy reflect our focus on enabling tech companies to grow and reach their full potential. We are creating the conditions that are helping the sector thrive, from clean-tech to lifesciences to ICT.”

Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education –

“Our government has a plan to deepen the tech talent pool by increasing  the number of science, technology, engineering and math grads. We are investing in 1,000 additional new targeted seats timed to graduate by 2022, and these graduates will support innovation-driven industries and ensure that employers throughout our province have access to home-grown talent.”

Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour –

“Technology in B.C. is a key driver of our diverse, strong and growing economy and one of the sectors of our BC Jobs Plan. With almost one million job openings in our province by 2025, we want to ensure British Columbians have the skills they need to be first in line for these opportunities.”

Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism –

“B.C.’s tech sector is thriving, and by expanding our trade presence on the U.S. West Coast at this stage, we can help attract the talent, capital and investment that is critical to the growth of B.C. businesses.”

Don Mattrick, co-chair, Premier’s Technology Council –

“Great things are happening in British Columbia’s ever-growing and ever-diversifying technology sector. The strategic and responsive partnership between government and industry that is represented by the #BCTECH Strategy ensures the trend line continues along an upward trajectory.”

Bill Tam, president and CEO, BC Technology Association –

“We’re pleased to see that the government’s continued focus on the priority areas that the BC tech community has identified. The investments in talent, experiential learning and expanding investments in education will play an essential role in deepening B.C.’s tech talent pool and ensure that we’re well positioned to significantly grow the tech sector.”

Denise Williams, executive director, First Nations Technology Council –

“It is critical that Indigenous people have access to digital and connected technologies, comparable to all British Columbians. To achieve reconciliation through innovation, the First Nations Technology Council welcomes all opportunity to work in partnership to achieve total access to the knowledge based economy and full participation in B.C.’s rapidly-growing technology sector.”

Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer, Business Council of British Columbia –

“B.C.’s tech industry is growing faster than the overall economy, contributing to industrial diversification and creating significant numbers of new, high-quality jobs in the province. The B.C. Tech strategy has the ingredients needed for the sector to continue to grow, supporting local talent development, strengthening linkages with outside markets, and attracting international investment.”

James Hursthouse, board chair, DigiBC – 

“British Columbia continues to reinforce its prowess as a centre for interactive and digital media as a cornerstone of the technology sector in the province. With access to a deeper, broader, talent pool, our potential for growth is truly exciting.”

Ben Sparrow, CEO of Saltworks Technologies –

“The global market for clean technology and services is expected to grow to $3 trillion by 2020 – and B.C. is taking needed concrete steps to maintain its early lead role. This includes developing talent, better access to growth capital, stimulating a domestic market for innovative solutions to B.C. problems that also have a global need, and working to keep trade routes open and develop markets both East and South of our borders.”

Quick Facts:

  • B.C.’s tech sector employment eclipsed 100,000 for the first time in 2015, rising 2.9% to 101,780.
  • Wages and salaries in the tech sector also hit a new high for the fifth consecutive year, climbing 4.5% to over $8.4 billion.
  • B.C. has seen a 1.9% rise in the number of new technology companies with employees in 2015, growing to over 9,900 businesses. B.C. is home to 14% of Canada’s tech businesses.
  • The tech sector produced approximately $26.3 billion in revenue in 2015, a rise of 5%.
  • In 2015, the technology sector added $14.1 billion to B.C.’s GDP; contributing more than 11% of Canada’s tech total.
  • B.C.’s tech commodity exports increased by 20.4% to just under $1.4 billion, representing 3.8% of the province’s overall exports.

Learn More:

#BCTECH Strategy One-Year Renewal and Update:

#BCTECH Summit :

BC Jobs Plan Update:

Profile of the British Columbia Technology Sector: 2016 Edition:




Philip Steenkamp
Vice-President | External Relations
The University of British Columbia
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