$102 million will help create opportunities for co-ops, entrepreneurs and students
The tech sector is playing an enormous role in supercharging B.C.’s economy — contributing nearly $15 billion to B.C.’s overall economic output — but Dawn Wood, Director of Programs at Innovate BC, notes that a key ingredient is required for future growth. “We need to nurture new talent, not just for the tech companies but also for the thousands of businesses that increasingly rely on tech in their daily operations,” she says.
That’s why B.C. Premier John Horgan’s pledge at the recent BC Tech Summit to invest over $102.7 million in the sector is so exciting to Wood and her colleagues. Of that sum, $10.5 million is going towards co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students, with the goal of helping them prepare for careers in tech.
Specifically, the money will enable Innovate BC (formerly the BC Innovation Council) to award more grants via its BC Tech Co-op Grants Program and re-launch the Crown agency’s Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI) Program.
The Tech Co-op Grants Program gives salary support of up to $10,800 annually to tech firms hiring for any roles as well as non-tech companies hiring for tech-specific roles, providing they’re established in B.C. and have less than 100 employees. Similarly, the ISI grant gives tech companies and startups up to $10,000 annually to hire post-secondary business or tech students from accredited institutions in the province.
Over the years, such programs have repeatedly proven to benefit both student and employer. “In the late 1990s and early 2000s I was a Simon Fraser University kinesiology student who was hired through a co-op program as a disability management consultant, and then by an orthopedics company,” says Eric Jang, who today is a chiropractor and owner of the TeamWell Health clinics in Burnaby, Richmond, and Surrey. “Getting these professional credits was great for my résumé and facilitated my acceptance into chiropractic school.”