19 Oct Addressing the Challenge of Indigenous Representation in Tech
Steve Jobs once said that if you define the problem correctly, you will almost have the solution. And when we look at data behind Indigenous representation in tech, this quote rings true.
Tackling this challenge starts with looking at the big picture. Indigenous people represent 5.9% (approx. 270,000) of the total British Columbian population of 5Mil, which sets a clear benchmark with which to measure representation.
Looking at the BC economy, there are 2.6 million jobs in the Province of which 260,000 people are employed in BC’s tech sector. In fact, jobs in tech (professional, scientific, and technical services) have more than three times the employees that agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining combined currently have.
But currently the Indigenous representation working within the tech sector is vastly under-represented at 0.7%. Compared to a total population that represent 5.9% of British Columbians, the number of Indigenous employees in tech would need to increase more than 8 times to be representative.
During the recent Technology Impact Awards, the Person of the Year recipient Josh Nilson shared his thoughts, “The fact that most of our tech is around Vancouver and Victoria but we don’t really look at tech outside, in northern BC, the islands, all over these places; the fact that we (BC) only have less than one percent (representation of) Indigenous people in tech is something I want to change. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I’m going to hit up all of you to help me do it.”
Interestingly, by looking deeper at the tech industry, it is clear that there is no lack in demand for talent. In fact, industry estimates expect job growth ranges from a low case of 6.7% to a high case of 8.9% – every year – for the next 10 years. This would result in 262,290 to 362,071 job openings over the next 10 years, which is the highest of any private sector job. But we don’t have the talent to fill those roles.
Today, the BC Labour Markets Information Office estimated current talent supply for tech occupations is only at 102,436, which will leave a gap of 159,854 to 259,635 unfilled open positions for new and replacement roles. The demand for talent supply is our largest challenge, and perhaps our biggest opportunity too.
As an industry, we have an immense opportunity to fill those open roles with a diverse workforce and build a representative industry for the future. But we need ALL of British Columbia’s diverse population, everywhere in the Province, to consider a job in tech, and we need to work as an industry, as a united force to make that happen.
At BC Tech, we are working with our members to make an impact on turning that vision into a reality but need more help to create pathways for diverse populations. Programs like BC Tech’s Digital Lift program are taking an industry-led approach that provide paid reskilling and internships to under-represented groups. The program is supported by over 17 corporate partners including AbCellera, Absolute Software, Amazon, Change Healthcare, Copperleaf, East Side Games, Finning, Jelly Marketing, Kardium, Riipen, SAP, Seaspan Shipyards, STEMCELL Technologies, Providence Health Care and TELUS.
To learn more about how your can get involved with Digital Lift as an employer or partner, visit the BC Tech website or email email@example.com. And to read more about the talent gap in BC – read our recent report here.