Over the past 30 years a massive shift has occurred in British Columbia’s economy, changing what drives both growth and jobs in the province, says the BC Tech Association in a report released on Monday.
Despite these changes, it says, the “economic narrative has remained grounded in a 20th century idea of B.C. as primarily a goods-exporting jurisdiction. This presents a huge risk to the province as it begins to plan for its post-COVID economy.”
The report, entitled A New Economic Narrative for B.C. lays out the “fundamental changes that have been occurring both in the province’s economy, and globally, and suggests decision makers at all levels need to shift how they think about the B.C. economy, including where economic growth and competitiveness will come from in the future.
“B.C. should not be allowing 20th century thinking to guide 21st century decisions,” said association president and CEO Jill Tipping. “Other jurisdictions around the world are recognizing the fundamental shifts taking place and are making changes to remain economically competitive.
“As we emerge from COVID, and start to think about economic recovery, we need to make an honest assessment of where our sustainable strengths lie, and how we can build a more inclusive, innovative and resilient economy in B.C.”
The report looked at some of the main economic measures used to track B.C.’s economic activity to see what changes have occurred. Far from being a goods-driven economy, in 2019, service-producing industries were responsible for over 75% of B.C.’s provincial GDP, 80% of its jobs and over 50% of its exports, the report found.
According to a release, “these changes are consistent with a global shift in developed economies towards knowledge-centered economic policy where things like digital skills and infrastructure, intellectual property, data, innovation and human capital are recognized as key levers for global competitiveness and growth.”
To help drive prosperity in the 21st century, the paper proposed three interconnected priorities for B.C. decision-makers:
- Capture better data on B.C.’s economy, to identify the economic drivers that drive long-term prosperity and competitiveness in the knowledge economy
- Embrace technology and innovation as the critical driver of economic growth and resilience with increased investment in tech talent and support for entrepreneurs to scale-up
- Increase access to education and skills training and invest in the infrastructure of the services economy
“We need to get a better handle on the forces that are reshaping economies across the world, and how these forces will affect B.C.,” said Tipping. “The stories we tell ourselves about our economy have power – I hope this paper starts a conversation about the need for a new narrative to guide us to success in the 21st century.”
A copy of ‘A New Economic Narrative for B.C.’ can be found here.