More than 100 students from around the Island got a peek Tuesday into the region’s growing tech sector with the first regional Doors Open to Technology event in Victoria.
It was a chance for high school students to see what life at a tech firm is like and, according to organizers, an invaluable opportunity to dispel some of the myths about the sector.
“We were seeing a disconnect with some kids in high school,” said David Nichols, chief executive of Inventa, the company that organizes the Doors Open events.
Nichols said some students were discouraged from entering the industry because they believed there was no place for them unless they were “super smart” or devoted to coding.
“Meanwhile, the industry was telling us that there are so many different jobs in the industry,” he said, noting the event was all about showing them what’s possible and that a career in the industry is attainable.
“We are trying to highlight the immense opportunity there is for the growing tech industry and careers in that industry,” Nichols said, adding technology is actually part of almost every industry.
There is no question there is plenty of opportunity in tech locally. An economic impact study commissioned by the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council last year noted the tech sector boasts a $5.22-billion annual economic impact on the region, with combined annual revenue of its 955 companies of $4.06 billion, and employing 16,775 people directly.
The study also suggested there could be another 15,000 people working in the industry by 2030, but companies are at a loss when it comes to where they will find those people. Province-wide, the technology industry expects there will be over 83,400 tech-related job openings by 2027.
“The companies in B.C. see a real challenge in finding people,” said Nichols, who said the goal of the event is to light a spark in students to get them on the path early. “This gives them more understanding of what the opportunity is here.”
Students toured Limbic Media, Robazzo, VIATEC and Bambora, and watched presentations from companies such as Microsoft and B.C. Hydro, tech insiders and government representatives.
“B.C.’s tech sector holds incredible promise for young people looking to start a career, offering well-paid and engaging work,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.
“DOT helps students by giving them first-hand exposure to some of the innovative companies that are spurring economic growth on Vancouver Island and across the province.”
The DOT program, which was launched in 2016, has toured more than 600 students through the working spaces of tech firms in Victoria and Vancouver. They expect to run three events this school year.