In Alberta and across Canada, the economic and labour market impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt unevenly across sectors, suggests a new report from the Information and Communications Technology Council of Canada.
Although the digital economy was not completely spared of disruption, by early summer 2020, tech employment and output “almost immediately began an upward trajectory,” the report—titled A Resilient Recovery: Alberta’s Digital-Led Post-COVID Future—shows.
Despite a “notable impact” of the pandemic on Alberta’s economy, the province’s digital economy “remained resilient and thrived.” From February 2020 to May 2022, participation in Alberta’s digital economy grew by nearly 18%, according to the report, and employed an additional 30,000 Albertans. This was well ahead of overall economy growth.
In-demand jobs that experienced this growth included software-related roles; data-related roles; design-related roles; and other roles such as operations and business, the report says.
There are now more than 2,800 technology companies in Alberta as of last year, according to research from PwC. This is a massive increase from 2016, when just 1,500 were counted.
In the first quarter of 2022, Alberta experienced its highest quarterly investment on record, according to data from the Canadian Venture Capital Association. Through Q1, more than two dozen companies—half of which were in the technology sector—raised a combined $466 million.
Major technology companies, such as Telus, are making generational investments in the province, creating thousands of new jobs.
“We are supporting the social and economic vibrancy of Albertans and ensuring that every member of our society has access to the technology that yields the opportunity to realize their full potential,” CEO Darren Entwistle said.
“This significant investment by Telus in our community further connects citizens to the tools they need to thrive, and will create more well-paying jobs for Calgarians,” Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek added.
IBM is another example of tech expanding in Alberta. The company recently announced the creation of a Client Innovation Centre for Western Canada based in Calgary, creating well over 200 jobs.
“The new IBM Client Innovation Centre will play an important role in contributing to Alberta’s economic growth through job creation,” said Dave McCann, president of IBM Canada. “It will accelerate innovation in sustainable practices and advance the position of Alberta as a hub for energy transformation.”
And of course who can ignore Rogers’ plans for a National Centre of Technology and Engineering Excellence in Calgary, which includes hiring for hundreds of roles.