A key step towards supporting the technology sector in BC to reach its potential see more
Today, at the #BCTECH Summit Government launched the full #BCTECH Strategy, as a key step towards supporting the technology sector in British Columbia to reach its potential, create high-paying skilled jobs, and build a strong and thriving economy.
This announcement reveals the final two pillars of the #BCTECH Strategy: deepening the B.C. talent pool, and making it easier to access markets. It builds on the foundation established with the creation of the $100 million BC Tech Fund, announced on Dec. 8th, which provides access to capital for promising tech companies. Further details about today’s announcement are available on the #BCTECH Strategy website: https://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/
The Strategy includes 50 actions the Province is taking to bolster our burgeoning tech sector, some highlights include:
- Government has committed to ensure 25% of post-secondary’s operating grants are used for programs related to in-demand occupations including more focus on technology jobs;
- B.C. Completion Grants for students completing programs related to the technology sector;
- Hands-on experiences for students by ensuring new technology-related degree programs include co-operative education or work-integrated learning components;
- New K-12 curriculum that will provide every student with the opportunity to learn coding by the end of Grade 9;
- Funding for a foreign qualifications recognition project that will help new immigrants fit their skills into alternative, in-demand careers in B.C.’s technology sector;
- Making it easier to sell to government though continued streamlining of procurement processes, modern procurement tools and collaborative approaches;
- Improved reliability of high-speed internet access for northern and coastal communities;
- Making it easier to find and use services offered by government that equip businesses to expand and sell to new markets.
The technology sector has become a major engine of economic growth in British Columbia – no matter where you live in the province, or what you do, your life is affected by technology.
The #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver, is a first for the province and expected to bring in 3000 attendees see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Tamsyn Burgmann
VANCOUVER - Greg Caws calls home a cattle ranch in the East Kootenay community of Wardner and says he appreciates the perspective of rural British Columbia, where relatives have worked as miners and loggers.
He's also an entrepreneur who champions the technology sector with unsung stories of companies marrying those traditional industries with cutting-edge innovations.
There are drones being designed in Nelson for prospectors, a robotic drilling rig that walks north of Fort St. John, and a tiny camera developed in Vancouver that can descend down a borehole for kilometres.
"Every time you hear the bogeyman stories about, 'Oh, our jobs are going to be taken,' it never happens," said Caws, president of the B.C. Innovation Council, explaining that work conventionally done by hands is instead moving to heads.
"One of the things that makes people fearful is because they don't understand or they don't know — it's in their peripheral vision."
He's hoping that a made-in-B.C. technology showcase will illuminate the visionary achievements of businesses across the province and help British Columbians embrace futuristic technologies that are revolutionizing every industry.
The "#BCTECH Summit," running Monday and Tuesday in Vancouver, is a first for the province and expected to bring in about 3,000 participants, including business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, public servants and students.
Companies from clean technology, mobile wireless, virtual reality and artificial intelligence to forestry, energy and transportation will participate.
"A whole plethora of companies that don't typically meet," Caws said. "That cross-pollination of ideas is where B.C. will drive its advantage."
Highlights will include holograms, 3D printing, electric cars and a 4D Portal exhibit, demonstrations by startups, a coding camp, and speakers who will be simulcast to classrooms across B.C., including keynote futurist Ray Kurzweil.
The provincial government is hosting the event, not only to vault the tech industry's profile at home and globally, but to increase the industry's share in the B.C. economy.
Technology and Innovation Minister Amrik Virk said B.C. intends to build a stronger "knowledge-based economy" that co-exists with the natural-resources sector and underpins all industries.
He said the summit is as large, if not larger, as its liquefied natural gas conferences — and emphasized the two are tied, because new technology will make LNG more efficient.
"Tech is one of (our) many strengths. We're going to put it very high on our priority (list)," said Virk, who spent the past year meeting with representatives from hundreds of tech companies.
"We can sell technology everywhere else across the world after we develop it. It's something that stays after fossil fuels."
The province counts 86,000 direct jobs in the industry and aspires to grow that to 130,000 or more, Virk said.
It's B.C.'s third-largest industry, representing $15.6 billion or 7.6 per cent of the provincial GDP, according to the B.C. Technology Report Card by KPMG.
The 2014 report found the industry was strong provincially, but trailed other Canadian tech hubs on issues like availability of venture capital and talent pools.
Recognizing room for improvement, Premier Christy Clark is scheduled to unveil two more pillars of B.C.'s three-pronged tech strategy at the summit, focusing on talent and markets. In December, she announced a $100-million venture-capital fund to assist early stage tech firms.
Ray Walia, CEO of Launch Academy, a non-profit that's been prolific getting startups off the ground, said politicians haven't focused enough on tech until recently, but he believes they're now making strides.
"They're trying to learn as much as they can and catch up to what's been happening," he said.
Walia said governments must develop stronger relationships with savvy millennial entrepreneurs, who "live and breathe" tech, while relying less on advisers from the "dinosaur generation."
Government should play an important but not exclusive role in growing the sector, said Don Mattrick, the summit's industry chair, describing the transforming economy as a "renaissance."
Mattrick cited research that the population of cities worldwide will shift from 52 to 70 per cent over the next 20 years, making urban centres impractical for traditional industries like manufacturing.
"That's really what this conference is about," said Mattrick, who has held president positions at Electronic Arts and Microsoft. "Us building awareness and getting confident that we can grow as a community and have people become our No. 1 natural resource."
The B.C. government unveiled plans Monday to introduce computer coding in its school curriculum see more
The B.C. government unveiled plans Monday to introduce computer coding in its school curriculum, addressing a chronic skills shortage in one of the few areas of the Canadian economy that is doing well – technology.
“Every kindergarten to grade 12 student will have…the opportunity to learn the basics of coding,” Premier Christy Clark said at the opening of a two-day provincial government-backed summit on technology in Vancouver.
Ms. Clark announced the change, first revealed Sunday by The Globe and Mail, as part of a broader strategy to deliver more support to the province’s tech sector. It’s a shift for a government whose economic agenda has largely focused on natural resources, though B.C.’s flourishing tech sector employs 86,000 people – more than forestry, mining and oil and gas combined. The government unveiled the first piece of the strategy last month, creating a $100-million venture fund to finance startups.
Canadian political leaders have increasingly championed the digital economy after largely overlooking the sector in recent years. With oil and other commodities trading at multiyear lows, the economy teetering and a new class of startups gaining traction and disrupting traditional industries, Canadian politicians are hearing they need new, effective approaches to foster innovation and support tech startups.
A group of successful Canadian tech entrepreneurs, for example, recently warned Ottawa that a Liberal election pledge to fully tax stock-option gains above $100,000 would stunt their ability to attract talent.
Meanwhile, a chronic skills and talent shortage is expected to worsen, with Canada forecast to be short more than 180,000 information, communications and technology workers by 2019, according to one recent report.
“Computer science skills … are increasingly critical as technology is where all future job growth lies,” said Jeff Booth, CEO of Vancouver’s BuildDirect Technologies Inc., a web platform for ordering construction materials with 330 employees. “There is already a war for talent in technology that has companies like ours searching the world for the best engineers. … It’s very possible that computer coding and other technology skills may become as critical as reading and writing.”
Last week, during a visit to Google’s new Canadian operation in Waterloo, Ont., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged, “We need to do a lot better job of getting young people to understand what coding is and how it’s important.”
The new B.C. coding curriculum will be introduced across all grades over the next three years, featuring new standards in mathematics and sciences and a new and redesigned “applied design, skills and technologies” (ADST) component to improve students’ abilities to solve problems and think creatively.
The way students are taught will change starting in kindergarten, through “exploratory and purposeful play” that stimulates an aptitude for ADST. As they age, B.C. students will learn about computational thinking and learn the various aspects of programming. By the end of Grade 9, the government “students will also be able to experience basic coding,” a government source said.
Ms. Clark said it’s her goal to ensure coding education “doesn’t just become an opportunity for every child to take part in, but to ultimately make it mandatory for every child from kindergarten to grade 12 to learn about coding and how it works.
Students in middle grades will learn how to code, debug algorithms and use various coding techniques, including visual programming, while high-school students will have the opportunity to specialize in particular areas of technology.
B.C. follows Nova Scotia, which announced last October it will introduce coding to the curriculum this fall. Coding was also recently added to school curriculum in Britain and is coming in Australia.
While most Canadian provinces offer some computer-science classes and technology in classrooms, the net result is a patchwork, bolstered by outside initiatives aimed at addressing the coding deficiency in schools, such as Google-backed program Codemakers, which seeks to expose 100,000 Canadian children to programming.
Members of the Canadian tech community praised the coming B.C. initiative. “Providing a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum early in a child’s education is fundamental in advancing Canada’s innovation agenda,” said John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, a leading Canadian venture-capital fund. “Hopefully, the rest of Canada will follow [B.C.’s] lead.”
Canadian tech entrepreneur and investor Jevon MacDonald said, “It’s amazing to see different provinces taking the initiative to include computer programming in our public-school curriculum,” and called on provinces to jointly develop national coding education standards. “This would mean that no Canadian child would miss out.”
Tobi Lutke, chief executive officer of Ottawa-based Shopify Inc., one of Canada’s most successful startups, said it’s essential to vanquish “one of the greatest generational divides in history” by encouraging widespread computer literacy. “To the initiated, computers can solve nearly any workflow problem,” he said. “There is a reason why almost all entrepreneurs are ‘techies’ these days – they are the only ones that can teach computers new things. It’s an unfair advantage and entirely unnecessary. Computer programming is not hard and it is a whole lot of fun.
“Essentially every company in the world is either turning into a software company or is in the process of dying because of a software company,” Mr. Lutke added. “In this great reshuffling of the business world, we need Canada to end up with a good share of the newly created and scaled companies. There is tremendous upside for Canada in making computer literacy part of the core curriculum. … Whoever figures out how to teach computer literacy first will have by far the most prepared work force. It’s hard to overestimate the potential of that.”
The B.C. government announced other initiatives to support the tech sector, including making it easier for tech firms to sell to government.