ocean technology companies in VictoriaValentine’s Day this past week was an especially happy time for ocean technology companies in Victoria as it marked the start of the first concrete step in a federal plan to make the most of shipbuilding in the west. Lynne Yelich, minister of state for the Western Economic Diversification Department came to Victoria to officially hand over $1 million to help construct a dedicated marine training centre (the province and industry are also contributing a further $15. million, for a total of $2.5 million for the project) . This is a follow-up to Seaspan Marine’s $8-billion federal contract to produce noncombat vessels as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. TC Business writer Andrew Duffy did a great overview of the story here.

While shipbuilding and trades may seem like a far cry from what goes on in Victoria’s booming, $2 billion tech sector, the announcement – and the funding – is big news for our industry. For one thing, it shows that the federal government is continuing to pay attention to the needs of western Canadians, both by providing much needed infrastructure, as well as resources for training. Victoria is on the radar.

As well, the $8 billion shipbuilding project itself will provide likely provide benefits for local technology companies. Victoria’s marine technology cluster is part of a larger provincial sector (driven by the port of Vancouver) that is said to generate at least $12 billion of revenue every year, and there will undoubtedly be opportunities for Victoria ocean technology companies to work on Seaspan-related projects.

In other good news, it’s expected up to 4,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created in B.C. as a result of the shipbuilding strategy. While the new training centre will help fill the funnel to make sure there will be workers to actually build the ships, there will be other jobs created in Victoria in the fields of software development, procurement, project management, accounting, business development, design, quality assurance… The list of possible jobs is endless, and luckily post-secondary institutions such as UVic are here to make sure there is a continued supplied of knowledge workers.

However, enrollment in math and science streams continues to decline, which means there just won’t be enough workers to fill Victoria’s growing technology industry (it employs 15,000 people!), even before the Seaspan project comes online. So local tech companies need to continue to be creative, and make sure students – and parents – understand what opportunities there are in the industry, and how to get to them.

VITP and its sister-facility MTC are home to a variety of ocean technology companies in Victoria.