BC’s tech leaders pen open letter to Premier Christy Clark on the province’s talent shortage

Earlier this year, the British Columbia government revealed that it was creating a $100 million venture fund dedicated to encouraging growth in the tech sector, as well as a larger innovation strategy that includes integrating coding into the K-12 curriculum.

A recent open letter from BC’s tech leaders, however, says that talent shortages are a major hurdle to capitalizing on the success of this strategy. The letter includes signatories like EA Studios senior vice president Matt Bilbey, Vision Critical founder and CPO Andrew Reid, and Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes.

The letter, published in full by The Daily Hive, says that competition for talent is fierce across the world as more sectors embrace tech. “Streamlined immigration and training can help. But there’s only one long-term solution: ensuring that our own colleges and universities are educating students for tomorrow’s careers,” it reads.

The letter recommends investing $100 million to expand tech-related postsecondary programs, implementing mandatory co-ops in postsecondary programs, and building more awareness for jobs in tech.

“The province’s generous commitment to invest $100 million in early-stage companies through the BC Tech Fund may not be fully leveraged without a comparable investment in education,” the letter reads. “We encourage the government to expand its awareness campaign for jobs in tech, to invest in a multi-channel approach similar to the campaigns to promote the trades, and to build on laddering pathways to bridge the transition gap between high-school and post-secondary to prepare students for careers in tech.”

The full list of signatories includes:

Ryan Holmes, CEO – Hootsuite
Edoardo de Martin, Director – Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre
Igor Faletski, CEO – Mobify
Jeff Booth, CEO – BuildDirect
Allen Eaves, CEO – Stemcell Technologies
Gordon Nelson, VP – BC Rogers Communications
Michael Gokturk, CEO – Payfirma
Jonathan Lutz, CFO – Electronic Arts
Erkan Akyuz, President – McKesson Technology Solutions
Jill Tipping, CFO & VP Operations – Schneider Electric
Andrew Reid, Founder & CPO – Vision Critical
Kirsten Sutton, Managing Director – SAP Labs
Matt Bilbey, SVP & Group GM – EA Studios
Barry Ward, President – Bardel Entertainment Inc.
David Demers, CEO – Westpoint Fuel Systems Inc.
Rick Perreault, CEO – Unbounce
Bill Tam, CEO – BC Tech Association
Norman Hannaford, GM – Surveillance and Intelligence MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates