Amrik Virk: Opening the doors to digital literacy

 

The Province

If you are a job seeker with an understanding of coding – even the basics – you’ve got a competitive edge that employers are seeking.

 Just ask the 52 organizations supporting the second annual HTML500, Canada’s largest and free learn-to-code event being held in Vancouver on Saturday, Jan. 24, at Rocky Mountaineer Station.

 I’ll have the honour of addressing participants at the event and this will be my first opportunity to reach out to a broad audience as minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services.

 About 500 eager individuals will come together to learn the basics of computer programming from 100 dedicated volunteer developers. People attending range from 12 years of age to over 60, and include teachers, journalists, students, CEOs, artists, and entrepreneurs. About 50 per cent of the participants are women. The diversity this event draws is a clear indication that a wide range of people are interested in and see the benefits of learning to code.

 Vancouver’s own Lighthouse Labs is hosting the free event with support from national and local sponsors including the B.C. Innovation Council — a government-funded Crown agency dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs and commercializing tech and innovation in B.C.

 Our province is rich in opportunities for job seekers in technology, a key sector that helps strengthen our economy. Technology is the third-largest economic contributor to B.C.’s gross domestic product, and wages in the sector are 66-per-cent higher than the average in B.C. Tech hubs can be found in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, with the burgeoning regions of Kamloops and Nanaimo gaining steam.

 This event is the tech community’s innovative and industrious response to help meet the growing needs of B.C. employers and at the same time inspire a new generation of technically fluent job seekers eager to enter the workforce or change careers.

 B.C. is expecting to see one million job openings by 2022. While these will be job openings across all occupations, more than 78% of the jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 44 per cent will be in the skilled trades and technical occupations. To this end, the government is also investing approximately $3 billion into education and training for high demand occupations over the next 10 years through B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint.

 Technology is everywhere and is here to stay. Regardless of your field of study or occupation, technology will be working for you. I encourage all students, job seekers and life learners to seek out opportunities to improve your digital literacy. It will help you understand the building blocks of the technology behind almost everything we do. It will equip you to capitalize on the endless opportunities for those who understand coding, and enable you to shape your future and the world around you.

 Events such as these help train, specialize and strengthen B.C.’s workforce. I look forward to offering a fresh perspective on how we can move forward as a community and province in shaping a vibrant future and prosperous economy for all British Columbians.

Amrik Virk is B.C.’s minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services.

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