Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

The dream of completing a full software-engineering degree at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is about to become a reality for students throughout the Interior, announced Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

“We are making life better for people by creating more local talent for the rapidly growing tech sector,” said Mark. “For the first time, there will be a full engineering degree program available in Kamloops, helping to keep homegrown talent at home. By funding more tech seats at TRU and throughout the province, we are investing in the future builders, designers and innovators of a 21st-century B.C.”

Currently, TRU’s engineering program requires students to transfer to another institution to complete their degrees. The investment in additional tech seats means Kamloops tech businesses will have a greater supply of engineering graduates in the area, many of whom may want to stay, work and live in Kamloops.

“Students at TRU have been asking for a full engineering program, and thanks to funding from the B.C. government, we are able to give it to them,” said Alan Shaver, president of TRU. “This investment means a lot to the community. Not only will the program help Kamloops meet local industry demand for software engineers, it will allow local students to work with those companies as they study to become those engineers.”

TRU will receive $400,000 in startup funding from the B.C. government in 2017-18, which will allow the institution to increase the number of student spaces and to offer a full software-engineering degree program. The university is expected to ramp up to a total of 140 spaces in undergraduate software engineering by 2022-23, which will produce 35 additional graduates per year by 2023.

These tech spaces are part of the investment in approximately 2,900 additional spaces in tech programs at colleges, universities and institutes throughout the province, announced by Mark earlier today. Total startup funding this year is $4.4 million and is expected to increase to $42 million a year as programs ramp up.

“More homegrown tech talent is critical to supporting the growing tech economy in regions such as Kamloops,” said Dan De Palma, vice-president, sales and marketing at Streamline Transportation Technologies. “Much of the tech talent in the Kamloops area are alumni from the various tech programs at TRU, so I’m thrilled to see that they’re expanding. By training more of B.C.’s bright minds in relevant programs, the tech sector will continue to flourish and grow.”

Of the 83,400 job openings in technology-related fields available over the next decade, 5,100 will occur in the Thompson-Okanagan region. This provides opportunities closer to home for graduates of TRU’s new tech programs, should they choose to stay.

The tech sector in B.C. is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the province’s economy, generating approximately $29 billion in revenue. B.C.’s tech sector supports over 106,000 good-paying jobs and is home to more than 10,200 businesses.