Can We Keep our Tech Talent in Canada?

Recently a friend and local tech exec met with some top engineering students, and learned that as many as 60% had plans to accept jobs with tech companies in Silicon Valley. He asked a very interesting and complex question”What can we do to convince them to stay local and build a career here?”

I didn’t have an easy answer. I put myself in the shoes of these young and ambitious engineers, then imagined having to advise my son as he considers job offer from some well-funded and exciting start-up, or a huge tech giant. (he’s only 11, so I have some time yet). A new city, a big pay check, a high-profile company on your resume, a team of top leaders and peers from the best companies in the world. It’s the flattery of being scouted for the big league. I get it. Twenty-two year old me would have been sorely tempted.

The allure and excitement of these big opportunities is as much about the adventure as it is about the day to day of the job.

We definitely have companies in Canada that are building equally cool stuff. We have incredibly talented and experienced leaders to learn from, and opportunity to build a brilliant career and impressive resume. But when you grow up and study within the Canadian tech scene, the southern grass and the US dollar both look greener.

I’m not suggested that we stop trying, but I think we just have to stop beating ourselves up. Wanting to seek adventure and gain experience in other markets is a good thing. But here is what we MUST do: sell our outbound talent on the dream of one day bringing it all home.

Go and seek adventure if you must. Learn, grow and gather up some amazing experiences… and then come home.

As Canadian employers, we must plant the seed. We must remind the great young engineering and business minds, that we appreciate their adventurous spirit and that they are critical to our innovation economy – if not now, then in the future. They have the ability to be so much more than someone sitting on the 50,000 person roster of an enormous tech company. Once they see the world and learn how things are done in other markets, remember that they’ll be welcomed home. And that this will always be home.

At Artemis Canada, we’ve working on connecting Canadian companies with talent abroad through our initiative – Canada Connect. Find out more at www.canadaconnect.com.