April 4, 2016
Launching a Province-Wide Initiative to Increase Indigenous Participation in BC's Technology Sector
The First Nations Technology Council announces the launch of Bridging to Technology, the foundational program to BC's Indigenous Technology Talent Development Strategy. This innovative approach to skills development convenes key partners to create meaningful training, mentorship and job placement opportunities for Indigenous people in a knowledge-based and connected economy.
Bridging to Technology leverages the Technology Council's experience delivering digital skills training to over 2,800 First Nations individuals by expanding the vision to create pathways to BC's technology sector. This comprehensive strategy creates multiple points of entry into the technology and innovation ecosystem to ensure all individuals have the ability to refine their skills and get involved. The technology sector employs more than 86,000 people in British Columbia with wages 60% higher than BC's industrial average; Bridging to Technology is the access point for Indigenous people into this continuously growing and lucrative sector.
On March 29th the Honourable Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services, Amrik Virk and MLA for Vancouver-False Creek, Sam Sullivan came together with the Technology Council to officially launch the Bridging to Technology program with a$515,000 investment from the Province of British Columbia and a $100,000 investment from the All Nations Trust Company, Pathways to Technology Project. The First Nations Technology Council will play a convening role, bringing as many partners as possible together to form a robust strategy and approach to building technology skills and opportunity across the province.
"The launch of this provincial strategy comes after a significant investment of time concentrated on working with First Nations communities, the innovation sector, government and academic institutions to deeply understand the opportunity of digital and connected technologies for Indigenous people," said Denise Williams, Executive Director, First Nations Technology Council. "What we know is, the timing for this strategy is crucial. Especially now in light of a new government, we must seize the opportunity to better connect our communities, build the skills necessary to utilize technologies and create opportunities for everyone, especially our young people, to pursue careers in the technology sector. The technology sector is growing, it needs home grown talent and we make up the youngest, fastest growing demographic of potential innovators in the province. There's no question about the transformative potential of this strategy and we are very much looking forward to continuing in our role as conveners and facilitators every step of the way."
Bridging to Technology features unique course design that combines classroom and experiential learning that builds a technical foundation and support system for participants as they grow their digital skills and confidence. Through partnership and collaboration with First Nations communities and organizations, government, innovation sector partners and academic institutions; Indigenous participants from across the province will become part of a powerful network in the fastest growing industry in British Columbia.
With this investment, the Technology Council will now be undertaking the work to finalize the curriculum and delivery methods for both a ten-week immersive program and a professional development stream for the working professional requiring flexibility.
With hundreds of new technology companies emerging in BC every year and the technology sector growing faster than the overall economy, the Indigenous Technology Talent Development Strategy will enhance diversity in all sectors by enriching an already emerging pool of technically savvy and innovative Indigenous professionals.
Quotes from BC's Indigenous Talent Development Strategy Partners:
Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services
"Supporting Aboriginal digital-skills development through programs like Bridging to Technology will help to increase the number of talented, Aboriginal professionals working in tech jobs. Our #BCTECH Strategy will develop and attract the highest quality talent by introducing students to tech earlier, adjust training and education in post-secondary institutions and create work experience opportunities."
Patrick Shannon, Owner/Director, InnoNative
"One of the biggest challenges that we face [in the North] when running tech-based businesses is the lack of literacy and capacity when it comes to technology. The Bridging to Technology program has the potential to be a major catalyst in addressing those challenges. I'm excited to see indigenous people and nations enter into new digital industries, finding ways for us to grow creatively, culturally and economically while still holding true to our values and traditions."
Jeff Ward, CEO, Animikii Inc.
"One of our goals at Animikii is to encourage and inspire Indigenous youth to choose technology as a career path. I began my journey in technology as a youth, and if I had access to something like the Bridging to Technology program when I got started, it would have allowed me to move much faster in my career. This program is uniquely designed to develop aspiring Indigenous technologists in B.C., and I couldn't be more excited to partner on this important initiative."
From left to right: Vancouver-False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan, Kwakiutl Chief Coreen Child, Social Entrepreneur Patrick Shannon, Lighthouse Labs Vancouver CTO Jeremy Shaki, First Nations Technology Council Executive Director Denise Williams, Skwachays Lodge Sweat Lodge Keeper and Medicine Man Old Hands, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services Amirk Virk, Animikii Inc. CEO Jeff Ward, N'amgis First Nation Hereditary Chief Bill Cranmer.