JOBS SITE How the province is faring in three key ar­eas

BC Business Magazine - - The Conversation -

role in driv­ing wages up; I think that's some­thing that the mar­ket has to deal with. So I'm not sure that there's a strong role for gov­ern­ment in telling com­pa­nies to pay peo­ple a lot more.

There is a short­age of tal­ent in a lot of sec­tors, and there's high de­mand for skilled and tal­ented em­ploy­ees. So to some ex­tent, as com­pa­nies want to at­tract those peo­ple, they're go­ing to prob­a­bly of­fer more money.

As the U.S. turns in­ward, what must B.C. do to en­sure that it has a global mar­ket?

There was some ef­fort done by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment in terms of di­ver­si­fy­ing on the lum­ber file, de­vel­op­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket. And that work has cer­tainly con­tin­ued. Bri­tish Columbia rel­a­tive to On­tario is less de­pen­dent on the Amer­i­can mar­ket. The Amer­i­cans are al­ways go­ing to be a very im­por­tant mar­ket for us, but I think the re­cent tur­bu­lence, cer­tainly at the NAFTA level, means that there's prob­a­bly fur­ther in­cen­tives to look else­where.

But at the same time as the tur­bu­lence with the Amer­i­cans and NAFTA, we've also opened a trade of­fice in Seat­tle and one in San Fran­cisco. [In De­cem­ber I signed] an agree­ment on be­half of the gov­ern­ment with the governor of Ore­gon and the lieu­tenant governor of Wash­ing­ton about an in­no­va­tion net­work and ini­tia­tive be­tween our three gov­ern­ments.

How else is your gov­ern­ment sup­port­ing the tech sec­tor?

I think we're at a point where when we look back in 10 years, we will say that this was the point at which the tech sec­tor re­ally started to take off. We've got one of the best startup en­vi­ron­ments in North Amer­ica.

When I meet with tech com­pa­nies, they talk about a cou­ple of things; one is tal­ent. Through co-op pro­grams, through fund­ing ex­tra spa­ces in post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions—gen­er­ally ex­pand­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate and train peo­ple for the sec­tor—and reach­ing out through our im­mi­gra­tion arm, the Pro­vin­cial Nom­i­nee Pro­gram, to some ex­tent, we're en­deav­our­ing to ad­dress the tech sec­tor.

On the cap­i­tal side, the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment started the Tech Fund. We've con­tin­ued that ini­tia­tive, and [fund man­ager Kensington Cap­i­tal Part­ners] is mak­ing some early-stage in­vest­ments.

The other thing would be gen­er­ally the op­por­tu­nity for trade. That's where the of­fices, par­tic­u­larly in Seat­tle and San Fran­cisco, are im­por­tant to con­nect peo­ple here with ven­ture cap­i­tal, with com­pa­nies in the States that want to come here.

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