Technology leaders in British Columbia want the provincial government to do more to spur the development of homegrown talent, with the sector struggling with a shortage of labour.
The owners, chief executive officers and chief financial officers of 18 high-tech companies based in British Columbia, such as Electronic Arts, Hootsuite and Vision Critical, published an open letter to Premier Christy Clark earlier this month.
The letter said that there is only one long-term solution to the chronic shortage of labour the technology industry is facing, and that is to ensure colleges and universities are educating more students that will become prospective employees.
“This year alone, BC’s tech companies will be seeking thousands of new employees. New computer-science and technology graduates from BC’s post-secondary institutions simply cannot meet the demand for these well-paying positions,” the letter stated.
The leaders involved outlined three recommendations for nurturing local technology talent. The first is to invest $100 million to increase technology-related programs in colleges and universities, the second is to create more co-op placements in post-secondary institutions, and the third is to increase awareness of tech sector job opportunities.
Provincial Technology Minister Amrik Virk said he agreed with the letter and that retaining local talent was a current priority. He added that the government boosted the number of engineering-related undergraduate degrees by 71 percent since 2002, while the number of co-op placements has jumped by more than 45 per cent over the last seven years.
Clark unveiled plans to make computer coding a part of the province’s school curriculum in January, with the government having created a venture fund of $100 million to finance technology startups the month before.
However, Vision Critical Founder Andrew Reid believes there is more the government can do: “Everyone recognizes the importance of post-secondary education, but we need to see more programs, more spots, more availability; you could double all these programs and you would still see 100 percent placements.
“I commend the Premier for what she has done with her tech initiative, but I think we have to do more.”
Aspiring tech entrepreneurs can experience the importance of post-secondary education themselves by enrolling in the University Canada West (UCW) master of business administration (MBA) program, which provides access to education that hones core business and administrative skills, and teaches students to seize opportunities and use innovation to overcome challenges.
UCW MBA graduates benefit from increased employability, enabling them to forge careers in Canada as effective, efficient business leaders who believe in driving success and use creative policies to retain talent.