The province is helping out small and medium-sized businesses through a digital marketing bootcamp.

Provincial officials said they are adding an additional 3,400 seats to the camp.

This means that nearly 6,000 small and medium-sized businesses will learn digital marketing skills to access other markets, connect with consumers, and drive their businesses forward.

B.C. government officials said the bootcamp would normally be valued at $6,000 per seat, but the government is offering it free of charge.

The bootcamp is an eight-week course covering 40 different topics and led by industry leaders.

“When the pandemic hit, online ecommerce surged in B.C. and around the globe. This meant that businesses of every size had to get online quickly to make sales and connect with their customers,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

“To support businesses throughout B.C. to pivot and adapt, we launched the Digital Marketing Bootcamp. Given its popularity, we are expanding the program and investing more funds. This will allow the program to help thousands more B.C. businesses develop their online marketing skills to expand their reach and connect with people in B.C. and beyond.”

Provincial officials said 30 per cent of the seats will be reserved for Indigenous, Black and people of colour, as well as rural businesses because the province said they have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“Government must continue to ensure that Indigenous, Black and people of colour have every opportunity to advance their careers and their businesses,” Kahlon said.  “Our government is focused on an inclusive society that will have positive, long-lasting impacts on communities throughout B.C.”

B.C. government officials said the province has provided over $600 million to support small and medium-sized businesses across B.C. and said they are Canada in the amount of per-capita support provided for businesses.

The bootcamp is available for businesses with one to 149 employees and will be open until March 31, 2022.