BC Schools’ Tech Initiative Is The Right Code For Future Success

By Aranjit Cheema

As young adults graduating into life, one of the biggest challenges we face is where we will end up working – our future careers.  For most of us, these discussions and thoughts begin quite early in high school, and our choices in electives impact our post-secondary choices and job opportunities.

This is why I was pleased to hear the BC Government was changing school curriculums to include software coding skills for all students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.  In Premier Clark’s words, “Every kindergarten to grade 12 student will have…the opportunity to learn the basics of coding”.

The new curriculum development is in addition to the BC Tech Fund initiatives (which include a $100 Million investment in the tech sector), all as part of the greater BC Tech Strategy.  The BC Tech Strategy is a three part effort that will improve the tax burden on tech companies, help foster research, and inject capital into the sector.

As a young BC resident, thinking about the age old question “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, there couldn’t be a better opportunity than what the government is choosing to add to our education system.  My friends in school will have the skills – coming out of high school – that many of us had to develop in university or technical school.  When they graduate, they will be able to progress to higher levels of learning, and be very comfortable making that tradition.  For tech companies coming to BC, that provides a well-educated workforce who don’t have to be trained ‘on-the-job’.

The software industry, and the tech sector in general, are the fastest growing areas in new job creation, and the sector provides good-paying, creative jobs, with many clear opportunities for youth in today’s connected culture.  Many of my friends are employed in the thriving local tech sector, and I can only imagine the opportunities that would exist if the industry was able to grow unimpeded.

The curriculum changes are part of what appears to be a larger-scale effort by the Provincial Government to attract tech industry jobs to BC. The provincial tech sector is a key economic driver, and the government clearly realizes this. The biggest growth we see today is with tech companies, like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Hootsuite, etc.

There is a reason tech companies like Hootsuite, Sierra Wireless, Creation Technologies and others choose BC as their home.  Our educated, skilled, young and dynamic workforce is exactly what they’re looking for, and if you pair that with a very tech-friendly government, the combination is hard to beat.

As a young Canadian of South Asian heritage – a culture that so values science and higher education – this is an opportunity tailor-made for my contemporaries.  So many of my South Asian friends work in the IT sector, or are studying towards that goal.  This announcement will make things so much easier on those who follow – and their parents.  It also tells me this government is listening clearly to what my friends and I have been hoping for and aspiring too.

You just can’t get a bigger vote of confidence than that.

Aranjit Cheema is the President-UBC BC Young Liberals.

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