The provincial government today announced the full details of the new #BCTECH Strategy that will aim to grow B.C.’s tech sector and “strengthen British Columbia’s diverse knowledge-based economy”.
Premier Christy Clark addressed the inaugural BC Tech Summit to a sold out audience of over 2,800 people Monday morning, announcing a number of extensive funding moves for the province as part of the full #BCTECH Strategy.
The multi-year strategy focuses on access to capital for promising companies, talent development, and market access and includes the recently-announced $100 million BC Tech Fund. A significant portion of the plan also targets children in Kindergarten to Grade 12 and post-secondary students to enhance already-established coding academies, access to work experience electives, and dual-credit partnerships between secondary and post-secondary institutions. The biggest announcement in the plan is the school curriculum update that will teach every child between Kindergarten and Grade 12 how to write code.
“Over the next three years, every kindergarten to grade 12 student will have the opportunity to learn the basics of coding and all those fundamental tech skills,” Clark said at the Summit. “It is my goal that we ultimately make it mandatory for every child from kindergarten to grade 12 to learn coding and how it works.”
The Province will also give $4.5 million over the next five years to employers and organizations in the technology industry to help their current and future employees upgrade their tech skills. This year, $500,000 is available for eligible employers and will increase to $1 million in subsequent years.
“In our changing economy, Canadians need more opportunities to improve their skills so that they can succeed in today’s job market,” said Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk. “This funding is an example of the kind of support needed to upgrade skills and boost the Canadian economy.”
Premier Clark also announced $19.95 million in funding toward an $80 million upgrade to the undergraduate teaching labs at UBC’s Biological Sciences Complex north and centre wings. When complete, the new space will offer modern teaching labs for undergraduate life sciences programs while creating 320 direct and 265 indirect jobs.
The B.C. tech sector is no small portion of our economy; it provides jobs for over 86,000 people with wages 60% higher than the provincial average. In 2013, the tech sector added $13.9 billion to B.C.’s GDP and the number of tech companies increased by 8%.
Major components of the #BCTECH Strategy include:
- Expand eligibility for student financial aid to include the B.C. Completion Grant for graduates completing programs related to the technology sector
- Continue to promote the use of the B.C. Tech Co-op grants
- Propose new technology-related degree programs that must include co-operative education or work integrated learning components
- Provide better information to career educators and students about careers in B.C. tech
- Customize labour market infomation, strategies, and tools in the technology sector to address labour market priorities
- Include an annual 10-year forecast of job openings by occupation
Applied Learning and Entrepreneur Development
- Support technology sector employers help their employees upgrade their skills in the tech sector
- Build on the original coding academies hosted at five post-secondary institutions
- Build on the Mechatronics Technology Entrepreneurship Incubator at SFU
- Support Mitacs programs that enable graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to create applied research projects
- Help technology companies recruit and access workers from outside Canada and work with the federal government to improve their permanent immigration pathways
- Work with other provinces and the federal government to improve labour mobility and better our ability to attract workers to B.C.
- Fund a foreign qualifications recognition project that will help new immigrants fit their skills into alternative, in-demand careers in the tech sector
- Promote the federal government’s Express Entry program to attract workers with in-demand technology skills
K-12 Education System
- Allow opportunity for over 600,000 students across B.C. to experience new learning standards in math, sciences, and other tech-related curricula
- By 2016/2017, students will have the ability to learn code by the end of grade 9
- New Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies education – experiential, hands-on education related to technology
- Kids from kindergarten to grade 5 will learn foundational Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies through exploratory and purposeful play
- Students in grade 10 to 12 will have opportunity to specialize in Information Technology, Technology Education or emerging disciplines
- Give students access to work-access learning programs in technology to earn credits toward high school graduation while also learning credits towards a post-secondary program
- Work to unite data across the public sector to improve public policy and programs and increase data available for B.C. companies
- Give funding up to $6 million to the Okanagan Centre for Innovation to provide low-cost, flexible space for startups that have graduated from the Accelerate Okanagan Venture Acceleration Program
- Provide high-speed internet access to 100% of the province by 2021
- Improve reliability of internet access for northern and coastal communities
Business Growth & Exports
- Develop Sector Investment and Export Plans for life sciences, cleantech, ICT, and digital media
- Create a 10% growth in the number of tech companies with buyers outside the province through international trade shows, government-led trade missions, and international marketing
- Increase adoption of cleantech through the LNG technology fund and make legislation stating the entire B.C. public sector be carbon neutral
BC Tech Fund
- $100 million investment toward the availability of venture capital in B.C.
Tax Rates and Credits
- Boost the number of companies using the Digital Animation or Visual Effects tax credit or the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit
- Continue the Small Business Venture Capital Act to provide $33 million of tax credits each year
- Provide funding to post-secondary institutions to increase commercialization potential
- Provide funding to The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research