EDITORIAL: We need more than LNG dreams

Tech, military and shipbuilding could fill void in Greater Victoria

Politicians love to dream big.

It seems there’s no end to the lucrative opportunities of the future, from liquified natural gas plants peppering the B.C. coast, to bitumen flowing unhindered over the Rocky Mountains and onward to Chinese shores.

 

But take a look at present, and it’s clear new job opportunities in Greater Victoria are  dominated by one

industry: the technology sector.

 

A recent white paper released by the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) shows Victoria’s video gaming industry is booming. The region’s 19 gaming studios employ about 240 people, most of those local graduates, while 68 per cent of studio heads said they plan to hire new graduates by the end of 2014.

Those are tangible job openings in an industry that pays an average annual salary of $75,000.

And with VIATeC purchasing a downtown office building this week, the $3-billion tech sector is building on a proven track record that already employs 15,000 people in Greater Victoria.

The economic outlook for the rest of the region, however, isn’t looking great.

According to a report released this week, the greatest challenge continues to be jobs, and our region isn’t good at creating them.

The number of public sector jobs is declining faster than growth in the private sector, which resulted in Greater Victoria producing negative growth of 0.2 per cent in 2013.

There’s optimism, however, that the tech, ship-building and military sectors may be able to offset those losses with expected boons in the near future.

Plus with a weakening Canadian dollar heading into tourism season, maybe that will be enough to attract more folks to the region this summer, boosting a relatively lucrative sector.

We’re hopeful our governments will see the potential for growth in Victoria, and better invest in sectors that make a positive difference in our local economy.

While it’s nice to dream about what will be years down the road, we need to ensure we are getting the most out of what we have today.

Especially in a place like Victoria, which attracts a skilled workforce, we need the right jobs now if we really want to look to a positive outcome in the future.

 

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