I recently met an old friend who works at one of the local hi-tech companies and was very excited about his up coming trip to Asia. He was going there for a couple of months and was hoping to get some sight seeing in.
On the flip side he did say that he was going to train a team of 10 and said that in 5 years he would have trained himself out of his job.
5 years ago, around the time of the tech bubble burst, manufacturing jobs were lost to Asia. It became apparent that we could not compete at that price level. At that time everyone said that it was ok as long as Canada was still involved heavily in R&D.
However, this conversation about training teams overseas are all too common today. What happens 5 years from now? Is Canada going to give up their R&D to the overseas market as we can’t afford to innovate here?
Let’s take a step back and try to connect the dots.
- In Canada our universities are heavily subsidized, we pay at least 10 times less for tuition here than south of the border. So as a country a significant amount of our investment goes into university education. In Ottawa it’s not uncommon for someone to have multiple degrees
- Since the technology downturn a few years ago, there are still thousands of underemployed tech workers in Ottawa. They are very well educated and have a lot of industry experience however there is no place for them to use these talents. Instead they have to settle for pizza delivery, warehouse work etc…. Silicon Valley North has not bounced back to its glory days
- With the current trend of training R&D teams overseas the underemployed will increase significantly over the next 5 years, hence a wasted investment in the university education
The city of Montreal did something very interesting a few years ago. They promoted their animation industry to the global market. Today there are a lot of very successful companies that specialize in animation and gaming. Montreal is known worldwide for this particular skill which have lead to a lot overseas customers.
With this in mind, I do have a very easy solution to this problem, promote the technical talent in this city globally.
I have had this conversation with various decision makers in this city and they all tell me that a hi-tech company, Dell had moved here for this reason. I need to clarify this whole Dell situation… when Dell moved to Ottawa to create thousands of jobs, it was for their “call center”!!!!! These types of jobs are low paying and for students, not for someone who has a degree and several years of industry experience.
Let’s promote Silicon Valley North and attract overseas companies to set up shop here for R&D and let Canada utilize their investment in the education of their tech workers.