Central Okanagan Tech Industry is Exploding

The Central Okanagan’s tech industry is almost No. 1 industry in the region, and it could be considered the top dog depending upon you spin the numbers the right way.

Accelerate Okanagan and the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission on Thursday morning announced the results of its 2017 economic study, and the numbers simply back up what everyone already knew: The industry is exploding.

It has a $1.67 billion economic impact on the region, which is right up there with tourism.

There are 693 businesses, which is more than the 600 in manufacturing.

And there are 12,474 workers, which is more than the 12,000 who are employed in the entire B.C. wine industry.

“The first two numbers I was kind of expecting, which are still huge,” Accelerate Okanagan CEO Roghwa Gopal said after the announcement at The Innovation Centre. “The biggest surprise for me was the workforce growth.”

There were only 7,600 tech employees the last time this study was conducted, in 2015, which means there was a whopping 64 per cent increase in two years. Approximately 15 per cent of those in the tech sector is contract workers.

“People are starting to find Kelowna now,” Gopal said. “People are starting to see there’s a tech ecosystem. ‘I can go and live there and work.’

“Many members in the ‘gig economy’ can live anywhere, but they choose to live and work here.”

The industry shows few signs of slowing down, too.

“We’re the fastest growing tech hub in B.C. certainly,” COEDC director Corie Griffiths said. “I can see that momentum continuing for a variety of reasons. We have the infrastructure and support by all levels of government. We have support from the post-secondary institutions, and we have a startup ecosystem.”

The No. 1 issue continues to be recruitment. There are plenty of available positions but not enough people to fill them.

“We do have two great academic institutions (UBCO and Okanagan College) that totally get it,” Gopal said. “All of these studies confirm to them what they should be doing. So they’re out there—and I’m very much connected to both organizations—and I know they’re putting plans together to make sure they can help the community by creating the right kind of talent.”


Source: Okanaganedge.Net

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