‘Techno-immigrants’ fuel Vancouver’s high-tech sector

April 29, 2017

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun |

Major corporations rely on international students, temporary foreign workers and immigrants to feed Metro Vancouver’s growing high-tech sector, says a study.

In an article titled “Chinese techno-immigrants in Western Canada,” two sociologists describe how U.S. corporations, including Microsoft, have opened high-tech arms in Metro Vancouver to capitalize on Canada’s less-restrictive approach to migration.

“High-tech computer programming and computer systems analysis have been the two most common intended occupations of all skilled immigrants to Canada, most of whom come from Asia,” write SFU’s Karl Froschauer and the University of Calgary’s Lloyd Wong.

In researching what they call the “over-representation of Chinese high-tech immigrants in the high-tech sector,” the two sociologists interviewed scores of workers in an industry said to employ 110,000 people in B.C., mostly in Metro Vancouver.

“Canadian corporations look abroad for immigrants because they spend a very small fraction of their salary budget on training and because B.C. universities produce relatively few graduates in the technology field,” the professors say, citing a KPMG report.

The state of the city’s high-tech industry has become key to the election platforms of both B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan and B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark, with each promising to provide more training and high-tech employment for Canadians.

“British Columbia can be the new Silicon Valley. And it has to be, because we want our kids to have great jobs,” Clark said this week.

Maintaining Clark is trying to distract voters from her failed promise to bring LNG jobs to the province, Horgan said he will help companies “develop and access talent, capital, and expanded markets so we can create good-paying, forward-looking jobs across the province and make B.C. into a true high-tech hub.”

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