New Opportunities for More People Coming to British Columbia’s Tech Sector

More than 3,000 people from under-represented groups across the province will have more opportunities to join BC’s booming tech sector through the expansion of the Innovator Skills Initiative.

The program will see the Government of British Columbia partner with Innovate BC, Mitacs and the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) to provide grants to businesses and nonprofits to help under-represented people getting their first job in the tech industry or in a tech-enabled role.

This initiative is also helping businesses and nonprofits facing skills shortages grow.

“We are building an economy that works for everyone – an economy that is sustainable, innovative and inclusive of all British Columbians. When COVID-19 swept across the province, hardship fell disproportionately on many people including Indigenous people, Blacks, people of color, youth, women and people of various genders, 2SLGBTQ + and people from marginalized communities, ”said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Employment, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “At the same time, there are many businesses in British Columbia that are growing and need help filling in-demand technology positions. This program will help clear pathways for skilled and under-represented people who deserve meaningful, long-term employment that helps them support their families.

The provincial investment of $ 15 million is complemented by the partners, bringing the total investment in the Innovator Skills Initiative program to $ 29 million.

The Innovator Skills Initiative program provides companies in British Columbia with grants of up to $ 10,000 per employee hired for technology jobs and technology roles. The grant covers the salary of a new employee for four months. There are 3,000 grants available. Organizations can apply for a maximum of 10 positions.

The program has been redesigned to provide employers with access to larger grants, doubling the maximum amount of the previous grant from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 per employee to hire workers who are either students or who already have degrees. recognized by the industry. The redesign also makes the program more inclusive by prioritizing placements for people who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and historically under-represented in the tech industry. Preference is given to employers who hire candidates who identify as Indigenous, Black, people of color, women and non-binary people, 2SLGBTQ + and people from under-represented communities.

The program redesign is the result of consultations with multiple stakeholders held by Brenda Bailey, Parliamentary Secretary for Technology and Innovation. Engagement sessions took place from May 2021 to July 2021 with 21 organizations supporting underrepresented communities. Attendees included the First Nations Technology Council, Black Entrepreneurs and Businesses of Canada, MOSAIC, Inclusion BC, HR Tech Group and Ethos Lab, among others. In addition, hundreds of surveys have been distributed online to stakeholder organizations, industry groups and former grant recipients.

“I would like to thank everyone who made invaluable contributions to the overhaul of the Innovator Skills Initiative program. With your expertise, we have created a program that will help more people be a part of our strong, innovative and inclusive tech sector with career starts that can lead to good, permanent jobs, ”said Bailey. “With the changes to the program, BC companies will have an easier time accessing the program and quickly hiring new employees with the right technology skills. By consulting with businesses and people from marginalized communities, we have created a program that will help strengthen the diversity of the tech sector.

Applications are open until spring 2022 or until funds are disbursed. Positions may be available throughout British Columbia and are dependent on the companies applying for the grants.

“Technology is necessary for most businesses to grow and reach new markets. The Innovator Skills Initiative can help BC businesses hire the tech workers they need to get ahead, ”said Raghwa Gopal, President and CEO of Innovate BC. “The program also provides participants with valuable paid experience that can lead to long-term employment with the same company or open the door to another employment opportunity.”

The Innovator Skills Initiative will help support strong economic growth by placing thousands of people in technology-driven jobs and helping businesses and nonprofits grow. It will serve as a cornerstone as the government develops British Columbia’s economic plan that will help the province build a more innovative, sustainable and inclusive future.


Namir Anani, President and CEO, CTIC –

“ICTC is delighted to partner with the British Columbia Ministry of Employment, Economic Recovery and Innovation on the Innovator Skills Initiative. This essential partnership will extend to ICTC’s WIL Digital program to provide BC businesses with additional financial support and will play a key role in acquiring students ready to innovate for the economy of tomorrow. This is particularly critical to accelerate British Columbia’s digitally-driven economic recovery in an increasingly global and competitive landscape. “

John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs –

“Mitacs is pleased to support the revamped BC Innovator Skills Initiative program. Ensuring that under-represented groups have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in innovative sectors is essential to ensure a more equitable post-COVID-19 economic recovery and to build a better future for British Columbia and for Canada.

Ben Walter, Partnerships and Growth Specialist, Pocketed

“As a small business with limited cash flow, it is an ongoing challenge to grow our team and move forward with innovation initiatives. The Innovative Skills program provided us with the resources to break through this financial barrier and connect with brilliant talent, like Avery Noonan, who we probably wouldn’t have been able to work with otherwise. We are grateful for the many doors this funding has opened. “

Avery Noonan, Data Engineer, Pocketed

“The Innovative Skills Program allowed me to explore career opportunities in technology outside of academia; a transition that can be a challenge for many graduate students. Not only was I able to land the initial internship with Pocketed, but I was able to secure continued employment and continue working with the company today.

Learn more:

Companies interested in applying for the Innovator Skills program can apply here:

To learn more about the Innovator Skills Initiative, eligibility criteria and to apply, visit:

To learn more about Innovate BC, visit:

To learn more about Mitacs, visit:

To learn more about the Information and Communications Technology Council, visit:

To learn more about the Information and Communications Technology Council’s WIL Digital program, visit:

An information document follows.

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