(The Vancouver Sun) BC Tech Report: Revenue Climbing; Workers Making 60% More Than BC Average

As seen in The Vancouver Sun.
Written by: Gillian Shaw

VANCOUVER, BC APRIL 4, 2014 — Workers in B.C.’s high-tech sector made 7.7 per cent more money in 2012 and saw their total pay rise to $6.3 billion — the highest level ever — even though overall employment dipped slightly that year, according to a BC Stats report released Thursday.

High-tech revenues rose 3.5 per cent to $23.2 billion that same year and the sector’s share of B.C.’s GDP grew by 3.4 per cent, but overall employment in high-tech dropped 0.2 per cent to 84,070 in 2012, the report also stated.

The report — which showed the average salary in B.C.’s tech industry is $1,440 a week, 60 per cent higher than the provincial average of $870 — was released the same day investors gathered in Vancouver for Cascadia Startup Day at the Yaletown Roundhouse.

Co-hosted by the Launch Academy, the event drew 500 people and gave 25 startups a chance to make a pitch to venture capitalists.

“The tech industry in British Columbia has never been hotter,” said Ray Walia, executive director of Launch Academy, a non-profit helping startups in the tech sector.

“We have people flying up from San Francisco, New York, they’re driving up from Seattle and all to look at companies in Vancouver,” said Walia, adding venture capital “interest in Canada is very high.”

Several social gaming companies in Vancouver, meanwhile, were announcing plans for a job fair aimed at luring talent in a market where skilled workers are in high demand.

A Thinking Ape, a mobile and social gaming company that has grown to close to 70 staff from just 10 three years ago, reflects a sector shift that has seen large studios close their doors or reduce staff, while indie game makers are thriving.

A Thinking Ape is teaming up with Vancouver Social Games and EXP Bar to host a hiring fair next Tuesday, where it will be joined by a number of companies looking to recruit, including East Side Games, DeNA, LDRLY, Kabam Vancouver, Roadhouse Interactive, Relic Entertainment.

“We’re growing, so we are always hiring,” said A Thinking Ape’s Sonia Ryan. “Really what this is about is helping companies meet with top talent in this city.”

According to the BC Stats report, tech manufacturing jobs rose by 5.6 per cent and the sector continued to employ more people than forestry, oil and gas, and mining combined.

“To be honest, it’s crazy — in a good way,” said Greg Caws, CEO of the BC Innovation Council. “The report, which was really last year’s data, is pretty indicative of what we’re seeing.”

Bill Tam, president and CEO of the B.C. Technology Industry Association, said the 2012 stats reflect a trend that continued last year.

“I think it evidences what we have felt for the past couple of years,” he said. “The tech sector has continued its strong growth.”

The report said the high-tech sector accounted for 7.6 per cent of the province’s GDP. The rate of revenue growth fell from 17.1 per cent in 2011 to 3.5 per cent in 2012 with the high-tech service sector seeing the strongest growth of 3.9 per cent and manufacturing up 0.9 per cent. Telecommunications was the only area to see revenue drop for the year, by 3.9 per cent, while engineering services climbed 13.5 per cent.

“From what we’ve seen we’re pretty much operating at full employment,” said Tam. “Talent has become the big issue. There are tremendous opportunities for young people.”

Recent years have seen a shift from the high-tech sector’s traditional pioneers, companies like MDA and others, to relative newcomers. “That’s what we’re most excited about,” said Tam. “In the last five years, we have seen a lot more mid-sized anchor companies. What we see is a growth in the number of mid-size firms, probably 14 per cent since the last time we looked at the numbers in 2009.”

Among investment in B.C.’s high-tech sector, Vancouver social media company HootSuite raised $165 million in a Series B financing round last summer.

BuildDirect, a company that pioneered online sales for flooring and other building materials, got $30 million in investor funding earlier this year. And Amazon is taking up space in the new Telus Garden building in downtown Vancouver with room for up to 1,000 employees, joining other major companies that have offices here.

“From discussions with all of our companies, 2013 was even stronger than 2012,” said Tam.

“It saw record levels of financial activity, more than a billion dollars raised in private and public capital for B.C.-headquartered companies. I expect when we see the data, 2013 will be even greater than 2012.”

High-tech exports were up 10.5 per cent in 2012, to $994 million, accounting for 3.2 per cent of B.C.’s overall exports.

“However, the value of high-tech product exports has yet to recover to the peak value recorded in 2008 before the global economic downturn reduced demand for many goods, including high-tech products,” the report said.

To read the full article online, click here.