Editorial: Limitations from Lack of Leadership

Content provided by Business in Vancouver

Shortages vary from sector to sector in B.C., but there’s one deficit that should be raising the same red flag in each: leadership.

In its Skills for Success:Developing Skills for a Prosperous B.C. report released in February, the Conference Board of Canada pointed out that skills gaps now cost B.C.’s economy up to $4.7 billion in forgone GDP and $616 million in provincial tax revenue each year.

The report presented an inventory of the trades hardest pressed to secure needed skills. But while the HR challenge varied depending on sector, the difficulty in finding leaders was consistent “across all occupational categories.” That experience gap affects far more than bottom lines.

Conversations for Responsible Economic Development (CRED) pointed out in last week’s Business in Vancouver that the province’s tech sector “still lags behind other tech-
producing provinces and the U.S., particularly in exports, jobs and overall GDP contribution.”

A recent CRED report points to lack of investment capital as a key reason for the sector’s inability to deliver on its potential. But B.C. tech could also use more experienced and bold leadership. The industry has several stellar upstart success stories, but as BC Technology Industry Association CEO Bill Tam pointed out, B.C. needs to raise its “sense of competition versus other jurisdictions” in what is an intensely competitive global tech industry.

That requires leadership.

Aspiring tech entrepreneurs could look to one of the province’s less sexy resource extraction industries for examples.

Struggling to recover from shrinking markets and heightened global competition with a fibre supply devastated by the pine beetle infestation, key players in B.C.’s forestry sector posted impressive sales and market cap growth in 2014 by making strategic acquisitions of U.S. mills.

Leadership comes in many guises, but its raw materials are insight, audacity and experience. For many B.C. companies and industries, there’s no sign that the shortage of those raw materials, especially experience, will be eliminated any time soon.

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