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Kelowna  

Tech sector training boost

Premier Christy Clark was in town Tuesday, to announce targeted funding of $250,000 to help students training in the tech industry.

The money will be split by five public post-secondary institutions in Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver to help develop coding-related skills for occupations that are in high demand by the tech sector.

Clark made the announcement at the office of local tech success Hyper Hippo Games, along side Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton and Hyper Hippo CEO Lance Priebe.

“British Columbia is home to a growing tech sector that generates about $23 billion in annual revenue and employs around 84,000 people,” said Clark. “The money means we are able to create coding programs that are specifically relevant to the industries that need them.”

“These skilled workers will become a magnet for business investment and that business investment will become a magnet for people to come,” added Clark. “The tech industry does more than just create jobs, it creates sustainable, long lasting and diverse communities.”

The British Columbia Institute of Technology, Okanagan College, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria will now use the $50,000 each to pilot short-term coding training tailored to meet local industry needs and job openings.

'Coding' is what makes it possible for people to create computer software, apps and websites.

“The tech sector has sent a loud and clear message that there are job opportunities locally, nationally and internationally,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton at the announcement.

“This is a rapidly growing industry and we look at this as an opportunity to add to the programs we are already offering....that address, very directly, needs that are being expressed to us by the industry.”

The press event was held on the patio of Hyper Hippo Games, the latest venture of tech entrepreneur and former owner of Club Penguin, Lance Priebe.

“Succeeding in our industry is very, very hard. Our international success is completely because of the super-awesome Kelowna team,” said Hyper Hippo Games CEO Lance Priebe.

“I don't have a script or anything, I am just excited because everyday I show up at the office and I hear we need to hire someone new, who can we hire? So, I am excited we are going to be able to hire some people.”

The Okanagan itself has become a real centre of that technology boost in B.C. According to the province, approximately 6,500 skilled individuals drive a billion dollar industry right here in the Okanagan alone.

“Kelowna has become a tech hub organically, and one of things government needs to do is support economic growth and individual initiative where it is happening,” said Clark. “Not to create it, because it is these folks that create the growth, but support it.”

Clarks says Kelowna has a real advantage over places like Vancouver or Victoria, because it is still relatively inexpensive to locate here, educational institutions are top notch, and the lifestyle is highly sought after.

“Those three things give Kelowna a real big advantage over anywhere else in North America,” added Clark.

After the announcement, Premier Clark was shown how to play Hyper Hippos latest gaming success story, AdVenture Capitalist. Clark joked, it was a game she was good at as it was aimed to take down her political rivals, the NDP.

“It is about fighting New Democrats who are intent on overthrowing the capitalist way of life and introducing a socialist regime, which will mean a diminished ability to fund health care and higher taxes for everyone."

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