We recently hosted a virtual panel discussion on Alberta’s potential with a focus on the future for Millennials and Gen Z. The free event featured Charles St-Arnaud, Chief Economist at Alberta Central and Brad Parry, Interim CEO at Calgary Economic Development. Throughout the 45 minute session we gained insight into opportunities for the province and Albertans and dispelled a few myths. Thank you to everyone who joined and asked questions, we hope you can attend our upcoming Speaker Series events. For those who missed it, here is a recap.
Things are looking up: although our province was hit hard in 2020 with the impacts from COVID-19 along with a sharp drop in oil prices, we will see gains over the next 12 months says Charles. In fact, he says Alberta can be a leader in terms of economic growth in the country. With COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the hardest hit sectors will finally be able to catch up to the rest of the economy, and higher oil and agricultural prices are providing an economic tailwind for the province.
Diversification can be a contentious issue in Alberta. Some people associate diversification with giving something up or losing something. As Brad explains, diversification is more like re-balancing your portfolio to make sure you’re looking future forward. Alberta will remain the central hub for oil and gas in the country, but we can also capitalize on opportunities to broaden the economy to welcome other sectors. Calgary’s economic strategy spans across all industries: to be the destination of choice for people who want to solve global challenges with advanced technologies.
But diversification doesn’t just mean bringing in new industries, says Charles. We can use innovation to diversify our oil and gas products in order to reduce the volatility in that sector. For example, creating asphalt pellets from bitumen that can be shipped all around the globe can help future proof the economy. Even if everyone is driving electric cars, they still need a road to drive on.
For more information about economic diversification and what it means for Alberta, read our blog here.
Tech isn’t just a sector anymore, says Brad; it spans across all industries. For example, the energy company Suncor owns the largest fleet of autonomous vehicles in North America. And Calgary’s agribusiness sector is forecasted to invest $246 million in digital transformation by 2024.
Tech partnerships, such as cloud and cognitive services provider Mphasis partnering with the University of Calgary to create the Quantum City centre of excellence, create a thriving tech ecosystem in the province. And when large companies set up shop in Alberta, it results in the growth of smaller companies to support them. In Calgary alone there are about 2,000 tech jobs available right now. And both Calgary and Edmonton landed spots in the most recent CBRE tech talent report, at 28th and 38th respectively in North America.
A narrative exists that Alberta’s economy remains extremely one-dimensional and centered on oil and gas, which has caused a mass exodus of young workers – this simply isn’t the case. Calgary has experienced net-positive migration for the last 10 years, especially in the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts, says Brad.
In addition to attracting young talent, the province is also focused on retaining workers by making sure people can have a full career and make a difference and build a life in Alberta. The Edge Up program, for example, is an upskilling project dedicated to helping displaced oil and gas professionals train and adapt their skills for technology jobs being created in all sectors.
Watch the full session below and mark your calendar for our August 25th session on mortgages and housing. Registration opening soon.