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Tech sector forecasts significant demand, nationally and locally
Okanagan College Media Release

More than 6,500 skilled individuals are the driving force of the Okanagan’s billion-dollar tech industry but a recent national report forecasts a shortage of the homegrown talent to fill the demand for tech jobs by 2019.

It is clear there are opportunities in the Okanagan to take advantage of job openings in the rapidly growing tech sector. 

“Youth in our community looking for jobs, need to look no further than the tech sector,” says Phil Ashman, Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “With the right training, hands-on experience, and industry contacts, thriving careers are within grasp for our students.” 

“Since we launched our accelerator programs in 2011,” notes Accelerate Okanagan’s CEO Pilar Portela, “our clients have hired over 360 employees, and we see this growth and demand on the Accelerate Okanagan job board too, which has had more than 55 jobs posted to it this year alone. There is clearly a demand for talent.”

“This is why our partnership with Okanagan College is so important,” continues Portela, “We provide direct access to the needs of the thriving Okanagan technology sector, which allows the College to create innovative curricula that will develop local, highly skilled, high-tech talent.”

In the Labour Market Outlook 2015-2019 report released last week by the Information and Communication Technology Council of Canada, it is estimated there will be a talent supply shortage in filling 182,000 tech jobs in Canada in the next five years.

The growth of the tech sector in the Okanagan can be attributed to strong innovation and startups, but information technology permeates all aspects of the business world.  There are 100,730 British Columbians who work in technology, but of these only 44,000 actually work for a tech-based company. The majority in fact work in other sectors, including finance, health, and energy, providing technology support to the business needs that advance our economy.

Top in-demand jobs expected in the province are computer programmers and interactive media developers, software engineers, and support technicians. Okanagan College is committed to training students to supply this demand by offering three programs, all of which include a co-op component.  

“Through applied learning, our students gain hands-on experience that is valuable as they enter careers in technology,” remarks Ashman. “We are committed to fostering partnerships with industry in our region, and as such we are able to successfully help students find job-opportunities, ultimately helping meet the sector’s demand.” 

The College offers a four-year Computer Information Systems degree and a two-year Computer Information Systems diploma, which include software design and development, database management, development and administration, and incorporates mathematics, business, and communications courses. The programs are offered at the Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon campuses.

The two-year Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology diploma teaches students network infrastructure, telecommunication, and client/server administration, and also includes business courses to ensure students are prepared to tackle tech solutions for the broad range of businesses requiring tech infrastructure. 

"Acro Media is focused on applied skill sets in order to staff our software programming department in Kelowna,” says Becky Parisotto, Senior Project Manager at Acro Media. “The graduates from Okanagan College have been working closely with our business as co-op students, and growing into valuable employees for the past two years.

“The learning we see the students receive is ground-level, focusing on hard skills as opposed to concepts; which marries perfectly for joining our growing work force and resourcing needs,” adds Parisotto. “Their abilities to grasp new concepts with low ego and high work ethic motivates us as a local company to continue to go back to the well of talent at the College for recruitment and hiring.”