PEI

Employment in Charlottetown's digital sector growing rapidly

Charlottetown is a national leader in employment growth in the digital technology sector, according to a new study from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

Companies looking for qualified workers

The digital technology sector is both growing and changing. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)

Charlottetown is a national leader in employment growth in the digital technology sector, according to a new study from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

The study shows a 21 per cent growth in the sector's employment, second only to Vancouver's 21.5 per cent.

"Part of it was a little bit of a lower base initially than some other cities, but the growth rate over the 2011/2016 period was very strong," said Patrick Brannon, director of major projects for APEC.

In 2016, 4.7 per cent of Charlottetown's workforce was in the digital technology sector, which put it on the lower end for cities in the region.

  • Fredericton: 6.3%.
  • Halifax: 5.9%.
  • Saint John: 5.2%.
  • St. John's: 4.8%.
  • Moncton: 4.7%.

While employment is not as large a part of the economy as it is in other areas, the city ranks high in number of companies with 41, behind only Halifax (206) and St. John's (79).

Brannon expects the growth in the sector will continue, but noted there are challenges.

In particular, and this is a problem across the region, finding qualified workers. On a ranking of one to five, a survey of P.E.I. employers scored an average of 3.67 when asked how big a problem recruiting and retaining employees is.

Companies in the province also need better access to venture capital, Brannon said.

"There is some funding out there to start up these firms but once they get established and start to grow rapidly there's not a lot of help to have them scale up," he said.

Companies all across the region face a challenge in that Atlantic Canada has not been an early adopter of emerging technologies such data analytics and artificial intelligence.

"A lot of the local companies have to go outside the region either nationally or internationally to find clients for their software products or digital products," said Brannon.

It would be helpful for the sector if there was a larger local market where they could test their products and establish a market, he said.

The study was commissioned by TechImpact, a regional digital technology industry group.

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