Alberta will spend $50 million over the next five years to get more post-secondary students into the technology field.
Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt says the money will create 3,000 additional spaces for students and for scholarships.
“We know there’s more we need to do to make Alberta the go-to place for investment by high-tech industries,” Schmidt said Wednesday.
“Our government has heard the concerns of industry and we’re committed to ensuring that our higher education institutions are preparing Albertans for the economy of the future.”
The province estimates that there are currently about 1,000 high-tech job vacancies right now.
Of the 3,000 new post-secondary spaces, the province will fund 200 of them this fall.
Another 550 will be set for the 2019-2020 year, and another 750 each year after that.
Details on where and how those spaces will be allocated have yet to be finalized.
The scholarship money will be rolled out over five years and will also be used to try to get more women into high-tech studies. The province estimates that one in three post-secondary students is female.
Schmidt said details on how the scholarships will be used to recruit more female students will be publicized later.
The program is part of a bill introduced in the legislature.
The bill also establishes tax credits to encourage private investment in the tech field and set up an advisory committee to make recommendations on other ways to spur investment and fill gaps in skill development.
Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said tech leaders in the United States have stressed that brain power is the prime driver.
“(They’ve) said talent is their No. 1 criteria when looking at where to either set up subsidiaries or where to go next,” said Bilous.
“They’ve said they’re very impressed with the talent coming out of Alberta but that we need to increase the volume.”