I think this new report from the NBITC is helpful (full disclosure there are a few charts in there I had developed a couple of years ago) and show some almost startling data around the IT talent pipeline in New Brunswick. There has been a steep decline in kids coming out of IT-related programs college and university. We have talked about the complexity of supply and demand (push and pull) in the education area and this is a perfect example.
But I think in a future report the NBITC should draw a more direct line that aligns their vision for IT – thousands of new jobs, GDP, etc. and a stronger sense of how we would get there. That has been the Achilles heal of sector development in New Brunswick – from life sciences to aerospace to IT and more the industry will say the opportunities are great but not draw us a direct map. What is the growth potential among existing IT firms? Can we attract in a few large, multinationals? What is the role of R&D? Are there specific countries where there is serious potential for NB IT exports? How can we specifically tie IT into other important sectors of the economy such as call centres, forestry, shale gas for crying out loud, etc.
Of course there are no guarantees in life. I am not asking for the industry to sign a blood oath that they will create 2,341 jobs over the next three years. But if we expect educational institutions to train more and if we expect governments to spend more we have to be more clear about the payoff and the road to the the payoff.
It’s got to be about growth these days. New Brunswick needs growth sectors. IT could be one. Let’s figure out how.