Hear VEC’s Tech sector expert Sean Elbe and Kathy Gibson, Senior Advisor tell Parliament about the talent challenges and opportunities facing Vancouver businesses as the city grows – and is predicted to continue growing for the next five years – at the fastest rate in the country.
Watch the video recording (skip ahead to 17:19:50).
The below is a transcription of what was presented
Good evening, my name is Sean Elbe and I am the sector development manager supporting the technology sectors in Vancouver for the Vancouver Economic Commission. We are very pleased to have been invited here, and to be included in these important sessions today – thank you.As the economic development agency for the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Economic Commission’s mandate is to position Vancouver as a global destination for innovative, creative and sustainable business.
Our focus is on the wealth generating, high growth low-carbon, knowledge based economy. Many do not know that Vancouver has the highest rate of economic growth of any major city in Canada and according to the Conference Board of Canada, we will continue to lead the country in GDP growth until 2019. Vancouver also has achieved the lowest unemployment rate in Canada. This points to labour shortages in the greater economy and acute shortages in the key sectors that are leading our economic success, which we know are technology, the digital entertainment and interactive and with companies that operate in the ‘Green Economy’.
As I’m certain you’ve heard from your business constituents that knowledge-based companies require two critical resources to facilitate their growth; access to capital and access to talent. What we are here today to discuss, of course, are the challenges that we hear, day-in and day-out from our companies about finding the right talent and filling the over 2000 immediate job vacancies and the over 15,500 vacancies expected over the next five years as the sector grows in our region alone.
So why are we seeing this growth? Vancouver is blessed as an attractive place for foreign direct investment because of our top global ranking as a livable city; a place where talent wants to be. In addition to low corporate tax rates, significant investments in innovation across all three levels of government and proximity to the San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle corridor, we sit on top of the wealthiest, most innovative and greenest region on the planet. But the truth is, in that corridor, top talent is drawn to Vancouver like a magnet. Major global technology, digital entertainment and clean tech companies are investing heavily in new facilities in Vancouver and hiring hundreds locally.
Vancouver’s startup ecosystem is an engine of growth and as exciting an element to our economic story as the global companies coming to our region. Vancouver is ranked as a top global startup hub and this is evidenced by recently being recognized as Canada’s top city for head office growth. And these growing head offices need the executive leadership, senior talent and global expertise that in many cases is not always found within our borders. These industries though, don’t think within borders and they are transforming our local economies and shaping our cities. Two thirds of the new 5 million square feet of office space in downtown Vancouver is being taken up by technology and digital companies as well as the services that support them. Their goal is to fill these offices with knowledge workers.
To support these efforts the Vancouver Economic Commission has reached out across our region and across Canada in search of the talent that these companies need to grow. We’ve supported numerous career fairs locally, recruited nationally and taken the lead in positioning Vancouver as “the” place in Canada to grow your career in the technology sectors. This has been recognized by the Province of BC who has engage the Vancouver Economic Commission to lead the establishment of numerous working groups to inform and articulate their technology talent strategy.
It is through these lenses that we recognize the serious and immediate labour shortages that are facing our priority sectors. The discussions you are hosting on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program are vital to the needs of our industry. We are thrilled to be your partners in Vancouver to share our economic story, the challenges and opportunities facing our companies and important recommendations on how you can help fuel our continued growth, which we hope, can be recognized as a success that everyone in Canada can be proud of.