I have to admit. I’m hooked on Halifax. I migrated to Canada from Poland and led most of my professional life in Toronto. Moving to Halifax was hard but if ever I could love a place, it would be Halifax. The ocean, the endless lakes and trees, the perfect mix of small town community with many benefits of a modern city, and of course kind carrying people… what a combination.
Yet when I started working here I saw a number of challenges. I saw talented people leaving the region to get experience elsewhere. I saw many companies desperate to understand how to use digital and social media within this unique province and city. I saw a commited community of people genuinely volunteering their precious time to improve the local digital industry but many struggling to be profitable.
I humbly submit to you there are three key components that will drive the successful growth of the digital industry in Atlantic Canada:
The foundation of growth is education, especially in an industry so connected to technology. If you consider it takes an average of 4 post-high school education to learn a digital skillset, that technology is often already outdated by the time the student graduates. In no other industry is academia as challanged to keep their curriculum current. In no other industry is academia challanged with high curriculum delivery costs and limited funding. Yet the local industry so desperately needs great talent to deliver digital solutions. We all know too well that finding skilled staff is one of the biggest local challanges.
The second key component is a strong business sector investing in this industry. Nova Scotia is built on small business. It’s the part of our culture that drives us outside of our comfort zone. We don’t always enjoy to embrace new things. Many times it is smart businesses that take the risk of doing things differently. More than ever we need key businesses to invest in digital solutions despite their higher risks, unique challenges, and unexpected costs.
The last and the most difficult component is innovation. Ideas have no boundries, no roads, and no standard working hours. Yet innovation is what elevates ordinary things into extraordinary ones. It is the proof we can compete on a national and even global level. It is what we need now more than ever to bring the talent and the business to Atlantic Canada. There are thousands of stories of local business hiding somewhere in the corners of Halifax and other Atlantic cities that through their innovation are a global player. Now we have to do the same for the digital industry.