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Innovator Skills Initiative supports more tech jobs

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:20 PDT, Fri September 2, 2022

More people from under-represented groups can join B.C.'s growing technology 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 to the Innovator Skills Initiative in fall 2021 to help people from under-represented groups get their start in the technology sector in 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 from fall 2021 was supplemented by partners Mitacs and the Information and Communications Technology Council for a total investment of $29 million over 2022 and 2023.

The program provides employers with grants for as much as $10,000 per job 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 chief executive officer of Innovate BC. "We're facing a skills shortage in British Columbia and supporting the skills development of under-represented 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 the program—an important step in filling more than one million job openings expected in B.C. over the next 10 years.

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