More British Columbians from underrepresented groups are receiving the opportunity to join B.C.’s growing tech sector through the Province’s Innovator Skills Initiative.
“We know employers across Canada are finding it challenging to find staff amid this tight labour market,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “The Innovator Skills Initiative is an important tool to help our province be Future Ready and tackle our labour shortage, while creating a more inclusive economy that creates opportunities for under-represented groups in the tech sector.”
The Province provided $15 million in funding to the Innovator Skills Initiative last fall to help give people from underrepresented groups the opportunity to get their start in the tech sector during 2022 and 2023. As a result of the program’s success, the Province is allocating a further $583,000 this summer to allow waitlisted businesses to access the Innovator Skills Initiative program.
“Programs like the Innovator Skills Initiative are an essential part of B.C.’s innovation economy,” said Brenda Bailey, Parliamentary Secretary for Technology and Innovation. “I very much look forward to seeing the new scientific knowledge and discoveries that will continue to emerge as our province cements its international reputation as a technologies hub.”
The Province’s Innovator Skills Initiative funding last fall was supplemented by partners Mitacs and the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) for a total investment of $29 million over 2022 and 2023.
The program provides employers with grants up to $10,000 per placement, as well as resources to support companies in recruiting, retaining and developing employees who self-identify as being from an under-represented group.
“It’s absolutely essential that we encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion in B.C.’s tech sector. Innovate BC is very proud to deliver the Innovator Skills Initiative,” said Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC. “We’re facing a skills shortage in British Columbia and supporting the skills development of underrepresented professionals is a crucial step in bridging the talent gap.”
Since it was created, nearly 3,800 people have been able to get their first technology or tech-enabled jobs through this program – an important step in filling the more than 1,000,000 job openings expected in B.C. over the next 10 years.
The StrongerBC Economic Plan moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today while growing an economy that works for everyone. The long-term plan builds off B.C.’s strong economic recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges – inequality and climate change – by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities, and helping businesses and people transition to clean-energy solutions. The plan sets two main goals for the province – inclusive growth and clean growth – and puts forward six missions to keep B.C. on track.
Linh Nguyen, Communications and Proposal Writer, Upanup --
“The Innovator Skills Initiative gave me the opportunity to work as the communications and proposal writer role at Upanup. “Joining Upanup has given me the opportunity to switch into a new field of digital communications and explore the significance and dynamics of technologies that support countless lives in the communities.”
Darshan Kaler, CEO and founder, Tradable Bits --
“The Innovator Skills Initiative allowed us to bring on a recent graduate and have her take courses relevant to the position she was taking on for Tradable Bits. Funding like this allows us to improve the skills of staff members to expand their roles and responsibilities.”
John Hepburn, Mitacs CEO (Mitacs provided $4.5 million in funding for the Innovator Skills Initiative last fall.) --
“Mitacs is proud to collaborate with Innovate B.C. on the important Innovator Skills Initiative. By financing innovation internships for underrepresented groups, we are able to help these skilled students and postgraduates gain meaningful experience while filling crucial talent gaps faced by organizations across our province. Together, we can power a more prosperous and innovative future for all.”