While at ITEXPO West in L-A last week I saw a headline in USA Today "Opportunity Knocks in Canada". The story discussed how the petro-rich province of Alberta is recruiting skilled Americans to work there.
The other side of the picture is that US-serving contact centers located there are closing, such as Convergys' shuttering of its Red Deer site because of the high Canadian dollar that is largely fueled by the resource sector that has made services less competitive.
At the same time despite the widespread investments in predominantly nearshore contact centers throughout Canada over the past 12 years, there has not been the rapid expansion in IT and the subsequent movement up the skills and technologies food chain on any signficant scale there like that which has occurred in Ireland and is now taking place in India.
That shift has enabled the Irish economy, once Europe's basket case, to shrug off the loss of contact centers as it becomes less competitive than that in other nations, with former contact agents have moved on to become IT developers and help desk specialists. India is taking the same route.
Canadians have lost the puck as it were on the great opportunity that contact centers have provided elsewhere in laying the basis of a strong high-tech economy, which overall has long been fairly dismal with the exceptions of a few bright lights like RIM, Nortel, Mitel, and CRM vendors like Maximizer.
For when the oil runs out, what else is there going to be left especially in Alberta? While there has been much talk and a few high profile projects on technology, Canada, especially the West, is still a nation that 'hews wood and draws water'.