Toronto, March 3, 2016 – The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) today released a report prepared by Dawson Strategic with recommendations on how the federal government can play a leadership role in creating digital competencies and skills for Canadians. Highly skilled workers are necessary for the video game industry’s ongoing needs, but also critical to Canada’s future success in an increasingly digital economy.

“In the short term, immediate fixes to our immigration system are needed to ensure that cutting-edge companies developing innovative video games in Canada can compete with the world through easier access to the best experienced talent from abroad,” said Jayson Hilchie, President and CEO of ESAC. “In the longer term, Canada needs to be better at training its current and future workforce to meet the needs of the digital economy,” he added.  Canada’s video game industry projects 1,400 jobs at the intermediate and senior levels will be created in the next 12 to 24 months, putting further pressure on an already constrained labour pool. In the coming decades, thousands more jobs will be created in technology sectors.

The solutions to digital skills training proposed in the report are holistic and touch on all aspects of the digital skills training pipeline. This includes:

  • Creating a comprehensive national digital skills strategy for Canada. This includes federal leadership in creating a multi-stakeholder task force comprised of industry leaders, policy makers and educators who will set clear objectives to put Canadian’s digital skills back on track with international competitors.
  • Developing policies and programs that support industry stakeholders to be active participants in digital skills education and curricula development for Canadians in Grades K-12, in post-secondary and in the workforce.
  • Establishing a strong and respectful working partnership with the provinces to ensure that computing and digital skills are included in all school curricula across Canada.

“Presenting an approach which is inclusive, diverse and that ultimately leads to more opportunities for all to participate in Canada’s digital economy is critical to the video game industry’s future success, but ultimately, essential for the future of the Canadian economy,” added Hilchie. “Strong leadership from the federal government will ensure that Canada does not get left behind as other countries move to make science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) core educational competencies.  Canada must lay the groundwork now to ensure our economy has the necessary building blocks to transition to one based on resourcefulness and not just resources.”

ESAC is the voice of the Canadian video game industry, which employs 20,400 workers directly and contributes $3 billion to Canada’s GDP each year. ESAC works on behalf of its members to ensure the legal and regulatory environment is favourable for the long-term development of Canada’s video game industry. Association members include the nation’s leading interactive software developers and publishers including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Microsoft Canada, Nintendo of Canada, Sony Computer Entertainment, Disney Interactive Studios, Other Ocean, Glu, Take Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, DeNA, Ludia, Silverback Games, Square Enix, Relic Entertainment, Roadhouse Interactive, United Front Games and Gameloft as well as distributors Solutions 2 Go and Team One Marketing.