Rural Workforce Development: Challenges and Strategies in the Technology Sector

The technology sector is a rapidly growing part of the Canadian economy. Today, approximately 600,000 Canadians work in the field of technology. Every year the technology sector employs more and more Canadians and experts are expecting this trend to continue into the foreseeable future. In the past, the technology sector has often been thought of as a one industry sector. However, the Canadian technology sector is diversifying and includes numerous industries: aerospace manufacturing, architecture and engineering design, information and community technology, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, computer science and programming, machinery and specialized manufacturing, and scientific research and development.

British Columbia (BC) is seeing rapid growth in the technology sector. BC is home to two of the country’s major emerging technology hubs - Victoria and Vancouver are both nationally and globally recognized as technology hubs. As the sector continues to grow in urban areas, spillover growth is evident in rural areas of the province. While rural communities have traditionally been driven by natural resource based economies, many rural economies are starting to diversify to include technology workers – both as part of existing sectors (e.g., research and development within traditional industry), as well as standalone (e.g., technology startups, remote workers). As the technology sector begins to establish itself in rural areas, workforce development planning will become increasingly important to ensure the needs of companies are met and the sector can grow and be sustained.

The purpose of this knowledge brief is to provide an overview of the various workforce development challenges associated with the technology sector in Canada, particularly in rural BC areas like the Columbia Basin-Boundary. This brief will explore strategies and examples of how these challenges might be addressed.

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