Canadian Manufacturing

BC Tech Association announces that jobs are available for labour force

by CM Staff   

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The BC Tech Association presents examples of business leaders without tech backgrounds, who managed to build tech-focused careers.

VANCOUVER — Jill Tipping, CEO of BC Tech Association (BC Tech), says she is amazed it remains a common misperception that entering a career in tech requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree, living in a major city and a high aptitude for math and/or science.

“Thanks to short-course credentialing, increased connectivity, and the embrace of remote working accelerated by Covid, it’s just no longer the case,” says Tipping.

According to the BC Tech Association, many of today’s biggest players in the space never completed formal post-secondary education, from Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame. Closer to home, there’s a local example right here in B.C.: entrepreneur Josh Nilson, co-founder of East Side Games recently producing a chart-topping mobile game based on TV’s The Office, also took a different path to finding success.

“I’m from the north. I grew up in a small town outside of Prince George with a population of probably 150 or 200 called Willow River. Although I entered the industry over 20 years ago, even back then a bunch of technology jobs existed in the province, but the whole narrative was you had to go to UBC or UVic or SFU, get a degree, and then you could apply. I don’t think the narrative has changed much, though the amount of people that use tech has,” said Nilson, who joined BC Tech’s board of directors in 2021.


“I think the pandemic has done a couple things, and one of them is we now have mostly, or sometimes entirely, remote staff in tech. And there’s a talent shortage in B.C. So we have to start asking how do we get more people? How do we make this more accessible as a career choice — not just for young people, but those currently in other sectors. It’s especially important as companies strive towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, to have a varied team where employees can work from home.”

After a string of different service and hospitality jobs during his early days, Nilson enrolled into a one-year IT diploma program at Capilano University shortly before turning 30. He took a course at BCIT as well, both leading him into different opportunities such as becoming a project manager and a technician responsible for setting up ADSL internet on-site for customers. Landing a technical support position at Vancouver-based Relic Entertainment (formerly THQ Canada) served as an introduction into gaming.

Having been at the helm of East Side Games for the past 11 years, the 48-year-old makes the analogy of entering the industry similar to how a person would get into a blue-collar profession. He says in the culinary arts for instance, a restaurateur can endeavour towards Red Seal certification, or move up the ladder picking up knowledge and skills along the way.

“Tech is the same — you can go to UBC and get a four, six, eight-year degree. You can go to BCIT. And you can take courses, or you can take night courses and transition from a job you have now into a tech job and still be successful. It’s still hard, you still have to put in the work, you still have to have a lot of luck. But it’s possible. If I can do it, I think anyone could do it,” said Nilson, adding this would do wonders to address staffing issues as help could be sourced out of communities large and small, like his hometown.


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