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Software developer grads to benefit from new Amazon jobs in Vancouver

Last Updated Nov 3, 2017 at 4:24 pm PDT

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Amazon to open second office in Vancouver, but it's not the HQ2

BCIT students preparing for possible jobs at the tech giant

Horgan says housing and transit are among issues that need to be addressed to help BC grow in the tech sector

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – High tech computing students graduating from BCIT next month are welcoming the promise of more jobs at Amazon.

For the past four years, the School of Computing and Academic Studies has developed programs specifically for this segment of the high tech industry.

Instructor Bill Klug says some courses will soon be taught at a newly-renovated Downtown Vancouver campus. “We’ve re-thought the idea of a traditional classroom and we’re also going to have a tech collider area where we get companies to come in and work directly with students and set up relationships with companies like Amazon and local companies and get students involved in projects with corporate sponsors.”

He adds that also makes it easier for students to intern at companies like Amazon and many of December’s 25 graduates already have jobs, but not necessarily at Amazon.

“The skill sets now are different than they were even as short as five years ago. For BCIT, this is really great news. About four years ago, we realized that cloud computing was going to become very important to Canada, so we started building a special program. So, we’re hoping Amazon sees the potential of our students with these targeted cloud skills and that they’ll actually hire our graduates.”

If you’re not familiar with cloud computing, Klug says you’re already using it if you have an Apple computer or Gmail account. “Mail servers send and receive the emails. They’re in some data centre and you have no idea where this is transpiring. That’s the idea behind a cloud. Something’s going on and you don’t know where.”

Klug adds there’s such high demand, many students are hired after taking only one course.

“Absolutely. Not necessarily with Amazon, but we’ve seen the students get jobs with other companies in Vancouver and we know there’s a large demand for this skill set. We started with one course four years ago and now, we are up to four courses.”

He adds most of December’s graduates are younger than 30-years-old.

Amazon doubling its Vancouver workforce with second office

Internet retail giant Amazon has announced it will add 1,000 new jobs in this province by early 2020.

That will bring the Seattle-based company’s BC-based professional workforce to 2,000 people.

The company says it will open a second corporate office in Vancouver, leasing a new 50,000 sq. ft. building on Dunsmuir Street in Downtown Vancouver. However, this is not the highly sought-after second Amazon headquarters that has drawn the attention of governments across North America.

Site leader Jesse Dougherty says the company is choosing to expand in Vancouver because of the talent there is to offer. “We’ve really found it’s been an exciting place to grow. We’ve had very rapid expansion to grow to this first 1,000 and we’re really excited about continuing to grow out here.”

He says the news is being well-received and the work being done in Vancouver is for global customers, meaning engineers have access to knowledge from around the world.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is thrilled with the news. “We’re obviously looking down the road as well, with further growth from Amazon and other tech companies, but Vancouver’s booming like never before.”

On the issue of housing these new employees, Robertson says a record number of homes are being built here.

Premier John Horgan says in addition to housing, there are other issues the province needs to address in order to help BC grow in the tech sector. “More transit so that we can move around the region and most importantly, significant investments in post-secondary education, particularly in… science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Horgan says jobs in tech pay 75 per cent more than the provincial average.

The new jobs will include tech and non-tech jobs, such as software development, human resources and marketing roles.

While Dougherty expressed excitement about Amazon’s quick growth in his hometown, he remained mum on the possibility of the company choosing Vancouver as the site for it’s planned second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.

“I have no information on HQ2,” he later reporters.

An Amazon spokesperson added today’s announcement is separate from the second headquarters plans and there’s no connection between the two.

Vancouver is among several Canadian cities in contention to attract the company’s US$5 billion second North American headquarters. Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary and several others cities also submitted proposals.