Tech Companies Surpass Resource Firms As Top BC Employer, But Not All is Well

After today’s news on Calgary being named the best city in Canada to run a business, more news is on its way regarding Canada’s west coast. Basically, it’s kind of good, but kind of bad too.

The Vancouver Sun’s Don Cayo reported today that tech companies in British Columbia have now surpassed resource companies (including forestry, mining, and oil and gas combined) as the province’s biggest employer. The insights came from a new report done by KPMG for the B.C. Technology Industry Association.

But BC still lags behind its fellow Canadian provinces in this regard.

Nevertheless, the stats also revealed that the tech sector’s job growth in recent years is better than all other sectors, except for construction.

Technology contributes 5.9 per cent to B.C.’s GDP, but that’s short of the Canadian average, and the averages of provinces like Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The Sun writes that “if we were to perform as well as our peers, the contribution to GDP would increase by $2.5 billion a year, and we would have 23,000 more jobs.”

Globally the tech sector brings in $8.8 trillion, or 14 percent of the world’s economy, but BC makes up just 0.22 percent of that. The province is growing at a rate of 5.7 percent annually, but that’s below the global average of 7.4 percent.

Tech employees in BC are earnign an average salary of $63,000 via 84,000 jobs, including more than 40,000 who work for more than 6,000 companies in information and communications technology — telecommunications, software development, computer services, manufacturing and wholesaling. But the report largely warned about the small talent pool available in the province that produces 25 percent fewer undergraduates per capita than Ontario or Quebec. BC also produces just half the Canadian average of engineers.

R&D is a frequent concern for the province, which is granted far fewer patents every year than Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Venture capital is sufficient in the province, but not off-the-charts: more VC money is coming in than Ontario, but less than Quebec. Both the report and the Sun seemed to agree that the future lies in the schools and how they are preparing their students.

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