BC Government Announces $2.2 Million in Funding for 'More Inclusive Workforce' to Advance Tech Sector in B.C.Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Surrey, BC, May 28, 2019--(T-Net)--The BC Government (Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training) has announced Provincial funding of up to $2.2 million over two years to break down barriers through pilot projects, such as mentorship for employees and resources and training for employers.
People under-represented in B.C.'s growing technology and engineering sectors, including women, Indigenous peoples, immigrants and people with disabilities, will have better opportunities and advancement through new government-supported initiatives.
"An inclusive and respectful workplace will cultivate ambitions in people and allow employees to advance their career," said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. "The rapidly growing tech sector has thousands of job openings that it needs to fill, but it needs to be more inclusive of people who are all too often ignored. We're working hard to give people the skills to succeed in the tech sector so together, we can build the best B.C."
B.C.'s tech sector continues to grow rapidly but has a projected talent shortfall and low levels of diversity and representation from key groups, including women, people with disabilities and Indigenous peoples, a 2017 report, Diversity & Inclusion in the BC Tech Sector, found.
"British Columbia's tech industry is thriving, but for companies to continue to innovate and grow, they need access to a diverse pool of skilled workers," said Ralston. "STEM plays an important role in growing B.C.'s economy. With these pilot projects in place, we will be able to build a more diverse workforce that will help strengthen and enrich the sector with a range of experiences, knowledge and perspectives."
The pilot projects will be managed by Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) and HR Tech Group. The projects will look at how best to attract, retain and support career advancement of equity-seeking groups in B.C.'s technology workforce.
Support for the projects is through the Sector Labour Market Partnership (SLMP) program. SLMP projects are funded through the Canada-BC Labour Market Development Agreement and help industry and employers understand and respond to changing labour market demands.
"There is a strong willingness in our sector to improve diversity and inclusion practices, but the majority of tech organizations in our province are small and mid-sized, and they simply do not have the resources to do the work required. This funding enables the collective multi-year effort needed to implement practices that will improve the participation of women, Indigenous peoples, newcomers and individuals with diverse abilities into B.C.'s tech industry workplaces. We anticipate this project will have a tangible and immediate impact on the industry and on B.C.'s economy." said Stephanie Hollingshead, CEO, HR Tech Group.
"Women are making strides to increase their representation in STEM fields. They continue to make up a lower proportion of engineers and applied scientists - about 15%. We need a cultural shift to reach our goal to increase the number of women in the engineering and applied science workforce to 30% within the next decade. Collaboration with industry organizations, employers, school districts, post-secondary institutions and high schools is essential, as we aim to increase the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in these sectors." continued Theresa McCurry, CEO, Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC.
Increasing diversity in applied science and engineering sectors
* In collaboration with Engineers and Geoscientists BC and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of British Columbia, the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC aims to increase the number of women in the applied science and engineering sectors closer to 30% representation by 2030, aligned with Engineer Canada's 30 by 30 national initiative.
* Provincial and regional strategies include:
* career fairs focused on women;
* employer diversity and inclusion workshops and professional development for HR professionals focused on recruitment, retention and career advancement for women in the sector; and
* excellence-recognition award programs.
* Key components of the HR Tech Group project include building a shared Diversity and Inclusion Resource Hub, delivering diversity and inclusion training, and video campaigns that will showcase diversity and build awareness of tech as a strong career choice for women, Indigenous peoples, newcomers and people with diverse abilities.
* The 2017 research report by HR Tech Group, Diversity & Inclusion in the BC Tech Sector, found that groups under-represented in the sector include:
* women (15% to 20% of the tech workforce)
* Indigenous peoples (less than 1%); and
* people with disabilities (less than 1%).
* B.C.'s Labour Market Outlook projects 82,300 job openings in science, technology, engineering and math by 2028.
* This tech-intensive industry is projected to have total of over 100,000 job openings over the next 10 years, including 42,000 tech jobs. The professional, scientific and technical services industry also employs a range of non-tech occupations.
* B.C.'s tech sector consists of more than 10,500 companies and employs an estimated 114,000 people.
World-class class tech talent
Students throughout British Columbia will have more opportunities to pursue good-paying jobs in B.C.'s booming tech industry, which will help to ensure the province's employers have access to more homegrown talent.
* B.C. is adding more tech spaces, launching a graduate student scholarship fund and providing awards to inspire a new generation of women to pursue tech careers.
* An additional 2,900 tech-related spaces are expected to produce 1,000 additional tech grads a year by 2023. To support these new spaces, the Province plans to increase its investment up to a steady state of $42 million a year in ongoing funding.
* A $12-million, merit-based graduate scholarship fund will support 800 awards of $15,000 so graduate students can focus on their studies, not the costs.
* Women in Tech scholarships are available through the Irving K. Barber Scholarship Society, British Columbia, for women studying computer science, math or engineering, to increase their participation in the sector. The society awards 10 scholarships annually to recognize women who excel in the study of computer/data science, engineering or mathematics at the post-secondary level. At least one of these scholarships is dedicated to a woman of Indigenous ancestry.
* Plans include working with public post-secondary institutions and other partners to advance technology and innovation centres in key areas of the B.C. economy.
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