The B.C. government is extending its Play to Learn program for secondary students by offering a one-time $230,000 grant.
Launched in 2016, Play to Learn lets individuals in grades eight through 12 to learn the basics of coding, as well as the necessary skills to pursue a career in the gaming industry. The new funding injection will help more students with a passion for videogames—as well as and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—to learn how to design the titles they play.
Since the program’s inception, it has engaged more than 6,000 students across 96 schools in the lower mainland. The expansion of Play to Learn—facilitated by DigiBC—offers opportunities for schools outside of Metro Vancouver to get involved for the first time.
“Using game play to engage youth with technology has proven results,” says Brenda Bailey, executive director of DigiBC. “We care about the technology gap, and about exposing B.C. youth to the excellent careers in the creative technology industry in our province. This program, supported by the Ministry of Education, allows us to bring awareness of and engagement with B.C.'s creative industries to more B.C. high school students.”
The B.C. government is investing heavily in Vancouver’s tech industry. One of the fastest-growing sectors in the province, the government has identified the area as being able to offer high-paying professional jobs. In response, it aims to facilitate the entry of more B.C. students to the local industry.
“B.C.’s thriving technology sector provides significant employment opportunities with tens of thousands of jobs that need to be filled,” says Rob Fleming, minister of education. “Our government is committed to increasing training and learning opportunities to help prepare our students for these in-demand jobs. These new funds will help students in all corners of the province follow their passions and achieve their future career goals.”
Focusing on videogames is a fruitful area for the province. Metro Vancouver has a long history of excellence in gaming and visual effects, and boasts more than 100 studios, including the headquarters of EA Canada. In addition, a recent U.K. study revealed that girls who play videogames are three times more likely to enter a career in STEM—meaning the Play to Learn initiative may help to encourage greater gender parity in the B.C. tech ecosystem.
Kate Wilson is the technology editor at the Georgia Straight. Follow her on Twitter @KateWilsonSaysMore