BC Tech touts Cascadia links ahead of federal government’s skilled foreign workers initiative

May 31, 2017

By Tyler Orton, Business in Vancouver |

It wouldn’t have been unusual a decade ago for a Seattle tech worker to think of Vancouver as little more than a stopping point along the way to Whistler’s ski hills, according to Bill Tam.

“The reality is the tech scene here in British Columbia has really come of age over the last five or six years,” the BC Tech Association (BCTA) CEO told Business in Vancouver on Roundhouse 98.3 FM.

Over that period, Seattle tech giants like Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) and Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) have expanded their offices in Vancouver, along with growth-stage companies like Tableau.

The cities’ growing links proved to have enough potential that Microsoft gave the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington US$1 million to establish the Cascadia Urban Analytics Co-operative. The joint venture will see the universities collaborate on data science initiatives tackling urban challenges like traffic and homelessness.

Meanwhile, Tam’s organization is courting workers in Seattle to bolster B.C.’s tech talent pool.

The BCTA, along with a dozen local tech companies, travelled to Seattle in early May as part of its Go North Canada campaign aimed at luring Canadian expatriates in the tech sector to work in Vancouver.

The association’s partnership with Ontario-based Go North Canada gives it access to a database of about 25,000 candidates in the U.S. interested in opportunities in Canada.

The outreach to expats also comes just a month ahead of Ottawa’s planned rollout for its Global Skills Strategy, which aims to make it easier to bring in skilled foreign workers to boost growth at Canadian tech companies.

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