Attracting Top Tech Talent to BC

Economist Joe Cortright presented his recommendations on how British Columbia can position itself in the competition for top talent at BCTIA’s Techforum today and cities across Canada should take note. While elements of Cortright’s session stated the obvious with regards to how to attract migrating tech workers, there was much to learn about the impending employee shortage. Through a series of bar-charts and graphs, Cortright demonstrated that the baby boomer exodus will leave some serious workforce vacancies in the tech sector and opportunities will abound for the up and coming 24-35 year old demographic.

According to Cortright, this creative Young & Restless class is up for grabs as they’re willing to relocate before settling down into marriage & kids. Today’s young adults are choosing location first and job second as they no longer expect lifelong employment with one company. Makes sense, if you’re going to have multiple jobs throughout your career, you might as well love where you live.

As the Chief Economic Analyst for the Oregon Business Plan, Cortright’s research findings certainly prove his hometown – Portland – has been practicing what he preaches as the city has done well attracting a young, highly-educated workforce. Portland’s success is due to a number of factors but here are a few that economic development agencies (and HR departments) can learn from:

  • Encourage Diversity: cities that are open to diversity compete better overall.
  • Women are better educated now: a higher percentage of women are now obtaining 4-year college degrees than men, so make sure your workplace is attractive to women.
  • Build vibrant cities: young people prefer to live in vibrant ‘close-in’ neighborhoods (within 3 miles of the city center).
  • Transit System: A good transit system is surprising important – while most cities have a higher percentage of transit riders that are non-college grads, this is the opposite in Portland.
  • Get them while they’re young!

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