B.C. invests $15 million to help fund tech sector employment for underrepresented groups

The provincial government is investing $15 million boost to inclusion in the B.C. tech sector.

The funding, part of the provincial government’s Innovator Skills Initiative, offers up to $5,000 for each of 3,000 applicants

In a move to boost inclusion in the province’s technology sector, the B.C. government is providing grants that will help fund up to 3,000 paid positions. These grants will go to applicants who have been historically underrepresented in tech, including women, people with disabilities, gender-diverse people and BIPOC, among other marginalized communities. 

The funding—up to $5,000 per applicant—will supplement the income of a new employee in a tech or tech-related role. Applications are expected to open this summer for job placements in the fall.

For Brenda Bailey, parliamentary secretary for technology and innovation, the announcement is part of her mandate to increase inclusion in B.C.’s tech sector.

“We want to ensure underrepresented people have access to the career opportunities that they deserve,” Bailey said in a release. “Filling these jobs will make a positive difference to the B.C. economy, particularly for communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.”

Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, pointed out that people from marginalized communities have struggled to enter tech—and stressed that it needs to change. “By filling talent shortages, B.C. businesses have the opportunity to expand and grow,” Kahlon said.

The investment is part of the Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI) administered by Crown agency Innovate BC, which connects innovators with funding, resources and support to build and grow companies. That brings the ISI’s total investment to $21 million since its launch in 2015. So far, almost 1,250 people have accessed the program.

The ISI is also part of the StrongerBC Future Leaders program, which will invest nearly $45 million to provide training and job opportunities to 5,000 young people across the province.