If you’re a regular reader of Techcouver, you likely believe that Vancouver’s future success lies in acknowledging its importance as an innovation economy and preparing the next generation for this reality.
BC Tech Association President and CEO Jill Tipping wants everyone outside of the tech ecosystem to know this as well.
In a new report release today titled ‘A New Economic Narrative for BC’ Tipping’s team lays out the fundamental changes that have been occurring both in the B.C. economy, and globally, and argues that decision makers at all levels need to shift how they think about the B.C. economy, including where economic growth and competitiveness will come from in the future.
“B.C. should not be allowing 20th century thinking to guide 21st century decisions,” Tipping told Techcouver.
“Other jurisdictions around the world are recognizing the fundamental shifts taking place and are making changes to remain economically competitive. As we emerge from COVID, and start to think about economic recovery, we need to make an honest assessment of where our sustainable strengths lie, and how we can build a more inclusive, innovative and resilient economy in B.C.”
Over the past 30 years a massive shift has occurred in the B.C. economy, changing what drives both growth and jobs in the province. Despite these changes, the economic narrative has remained grounded in a 20th century idea of B.C. as primarily a goods-exporting jurisdiction. This presents a huge risk to the province as it begins to plan for its post-COVID economy.
Tipping’s report looks at some of the main economic measures used to track B.C.’s economic activity to see what changes have occurred. Far from being a goods-driven economy, service-producing industries are now responsible for over 75% of B.C.’s provincial GDP, 80% of its jobs and over 50% of its exports.
These changes are consistent with a global shift in developed economies towards knowledge-centered economic policy where things like digital skills and infrastructure, intellectual property, data, innovation and human capital are recognized as key levers for global competitiveness and growth.
One of the fundamental changes identified in the report is the long overdue shift towards viewing human capital – the people in our economy – as the primary source of economic value going forward. It suggests that we need to put a renewed focus on talent, and equipping not just new graduates, but workers throughout the economy with the relevant skills to participate in the emerging economy.
To help drive prosperity in the 21st century, the paper proposes 3 interconnected priorities for B.C. decision-makers:
- Capture better data on B.C.’s economy, to identify the economic drivers that drive long-term prosperity and competitiveness in the knowledge economy
- Embrace technology and innovation as the critical driver of economic growth and resilience with increased investment in tech talent and support for entrepreneurs to scaleup
- Increase access to education and skills training and invest in the infrastructure of the services economy
“We need to get a better handle on the forces that are reshaping economies across the world, and how these forces will affect B.C.,” said Tipping. “The stories we tell ourselves about our economy have power – I hope this paper starts a conversation about the need for a new narrative to guide us to success in the 21st century.”