Students, entrepreneurs, investors, innovators – and yes, politicians – gathered in Vancouver last week for the second annual #BCTECH Summit.
B.C.’s technology sector is the biggest it has ever been, with over 106,000 jobs and almost 10,000 companies – and counting. The tech sector employs more people than the mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined, and tech jobs pay 75 per cent higher than the average industrial wage in B.C.
If you’re looking into a career in tech, there has never been a better time. Besides being a growth industry with great pay, tech skills are transferable. Tech jobs aren’t limited to high tech; you can find tech – and tech workers – in manufacturing, mining, and tourism.
So you can work in any industry, anywhere in the world, but here’s the best part: you don’t have to go anywhere. Kelowna is one of tech’s hotbeds, home to some 550 tech firms employing about 6,500 people.
In the Okanagan, tech is a billion-dollar industry, and it creates an indirect impact of more than $284 million for businesses – supplying them everything from cables to curtains to coffee.
Because tech is a globally competitive industry, we’re working every day not only to support B.C. and Okanagan tech companies, but to foster continued growth and success.
That’s why we used the second #BCTECH Summit to seize the moment and make sure tech firms have what they need to thrive: ready access to money, markets, ideas, and talent.
Let me just touch on two: money and talent.
Last year, we launched a $100-million venture capital fund to invest in start-ups. We’re also ensuring B.C. has globally competitive taxes — not just low, but tailored to reward innovation in fields like augmented and virtual reality.
Tech is about ideas. If we’re already making sure B.C. entices firms with competitive taxes and access to capital, we also have to make sure those firms can tap into a deep, well-educated pool of tech talent.
That’s why we’re working to incorporate the world’s universal language – coding – into B.C.’s K-12 curriculum across the province. We’re also making sure those students have opportunities when they graduate, increasing the number of post-secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) grads by 1,000 per year.
We're also doubling the number of co-op students to 14,000, and investing $400 million in STEM-related physical infrastructure at universities and colleges – including $41 million for a new Teaching and Learning Centre at UBCO.
Just as I’m only scratching the surface of what we’re doing to support tech, we’re only just beginning to realize our potential as a tech hub in Kelowna and B.C.
Just when others turn inward, we will continue to out around the world and find new connections and opportunities.