New tech education funding to benefit South Okanagan students

South Okanagan and Similkameen students wanting a tech-related education will have more opportunity to study closer to home, the province announced Tuesday.

The province has announced new funding to increase student access to tech-related programs at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna and Okanagan College — which has campuses in Kelowna and Penticton and a satellite centre in Oliver.

The funding, said Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark, will improve student access to tech-related programs “from animation to engineering and computer science.”

The University of British Columbia is receiving $600,000 in startup funding, in part to support new manufacturing-engineering and expanded computer-science degree programs at its Okanagan campus.

The programs will result in 96 seats per year by 2022-23, and are expected to produce 24 additional graduates per year by 2023, the province said.

At Okanagan College, annual funding for 30 spaces in the animation diploma program will be provided.

The funding will produce 15 graduates per year by 2020, and will allow Okanagan College to offer the animation program on an ongoing basis at a lower cost to students.

The next intake of animation students at Okanagan College is planned for September 2018.

The funding comes as the province expects to benefit from a rapidly growing tech-sector. It generates about $29 billion in revenue and provides more than 106,000 jobs — most paying average weekly salaries about 85 percent higher than the average wage in B.C.

More than 80,000 new jobs are expected over the next decade, with about 5,100 of them in the Thompson-Okanagan region, the province said.

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