An economic forum, hosted by Premier Wade MacLauchlan, was held recently in Charlottetown. Attending the forum were government leaders, employers, and other members of the public. The Premier spoke about the state of the PEI economy, and the future for the province.
“We can build a success story here, because we have a diversified economy, and that makes us resilient. Our economy is balanced – all sectors make a difference.”
“Real growth in GDP per capita since 1961 compared to the Canadian average has grown from 50 percent to 75 percent. That means the prosperity of Islanders has gone up, partly due to the influx of big employers, such as Veterans Affairs, the development of Slemon Park, and food production and processing.
“PEI has posted solid economic growth over the past decade, with a future forecast of 1.5 percent growth per year. Our GDP was $200 million in 1992, and has gone up to $1.2 billion in 2014. In 2014, PEI led the country in growth of international exports.”
PEI’s top 10 international exports
- Frozen food
- Seafood products
- Engines and turbines
- Vegetable farming
- Other organic chemicals
- Animal aquaculture
- Electrical equipment
Premier MacLauchlan outlined several strategies to encourage growth on PEI, some of which were later announced in the Speech from the Throne.
Support for job seekers and self employment
- A new WorkPEI.ca website will match job seekers with local employers
- The new Start-up Zone will open to support budding entrepreneurs
Initiatives to improve PEI’s economic growth
- 1,000 job opportunities for students to obtain employment
- A pilot project will provide instruction in coding to students
- Multi-year funding arrangements with post-secondary institutions will be developed
Increasing the working age population
PEI’s population has grown from 118,000 in 1975 to 145,000 in 2016.
“We plan to welcome 1,000 immigrants in 2016, and we will encourage Islanders living elsewhere to come back to PEI,” says the Premier.
“Our greatest outflow of people to other provinces are between the ages of 20 to 29. We need to reduce that trend, and retain our youth to grow our population.”
For video of the forum, visit www.gov.pe.ca/premier/live.php.
PEI business leaders talk about the growth of their companies:
Sekisui Diagnostics PEI Inc.
“There is a lot of hope for future growth at Sekisui,” says Brian Stewart. “We are celebrating our five-year anniversary on PEI with Sekisui. We have grown 125 percent and have added 47 jobs in the last five years. There is a strong commitment from the parent company in Japan to continue this growth on PEI.
“From a growth standpoint, we are trying to bring in more students. Co-op programs are a great way to give students an idea of what type of jobs are available, to build a career, and to keep that talent on PEI.
“There is a strong possibility for our PEI location to continue to grow here. PEI has a very collaborative environment which encourages continued business growth.”
For more about careers at Sekisui, visit www.sekisuidiagnostics.com and click Careers.
PEI Mussel King
“It is a very optimistic time for our company on PEI, and the entire industry,” says Esther Dockendorf.
“We have a very strong aquaculture sector on PEI, which makes a considerable contribution to the PEI economy.
“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector in the world, and it will continue to grow. Value-added aquaculture products will contribute to the success of the Island economy.
“Human resources are our biggest challenge. The outmigration of young people is a problem; companies are finding it difficult to staff their businesses, and many young people say they have to leave PEI to get meaningful employment.
“By adding value to our primary resources, offering top quality goods, and presenting new and innovative products, we are generating interesting, better paying jobs, and creating wealth in our communities.”
For more about PEI Mussel King, visit www.peimusselking.com.
The Guild is a gallery and theatre space for seasoned and emerging performers. This season will feature the return of Anne and Gilbert, Annekenstine, and Stan Rogers.
“We are an arts and culture centre that supports Island artists,” says Alanna Jankov. “We have grown quite a bit over the last four years in terms of our revenue stream. We recognize that culture is an economic driver. When people come to PEI, they come to enjoy the culture, and to experience what we are, what we do, and why we do it.
“I work at the Guild with people in 14 different cultural disciplines. A lot of that work is seasonal and short-term. If we explored the hybrid career approach, where an artist could take on a different job off season, it would expand career opportunities, and allow more artists to be able to stay on PEI.”
For more about The Guild, visit www.theguildpei.com.
To explore a career in culture, visit www.culturepei.ca.
The Cranford Inn
Vicki Francis is the Owner/Innkeeper of this four-and-a-half-star bed and breakfast in Charlottetown.
“2014 and 2015 were fantastic years for tourism,” says Vicki. “The tourism industry on PEI is very optimistic. Early indications show that 2016 will be a very good year, with strong early bookings.
“We have an older group of people working in the tourism sector. We need to do some succession planning to bring in a new generation.
“We also need to address the fact that the 7,000 full-time equivalent positions in tourism are mostly seasonal.
“With seasonal jobs, it is very difficult to give people security. We need people to come back to those jobs, so they can build a career in the tourism industry. Perhaps it means hybrid careers, where jobs are combined with another sector.”
For more about The Cranford Inn, visit www.cranfordinn.ca.
ADL employs over 275 people in six PEI locations. Ten percent of their products are sold under the ADL name and the other 90 percent is private label/co-pack business.
“As for growth, we would like to see more product move under brands we manage ourselves,” says Chad Mann. “With the launch of Dairy Isle, we hope to do this.
“The dairy industry will be impacted when new trade agreements are implemented. The Canadian market will become more competitive. Cheese will be coming in from Europe and the US, so we have to re-think how we have been doing things. The Canadian dairy industry is strong, but more investment and innovation is needed in this sector in order to remain profitable.
“ADL has been successful in the last 60 years, and our success has traditionally come from local and national markets here in Canada. We will have to focus more on opportunities that exist off Island and even outside Canada.”
For career information about ADL, visit www.adl.ca and click Careers.
This aviation company in Charlottetown, employs 35 people who support customers in regional turboprop marketplace world-wide.
“Since 2008, we have been adding an average of five people per year,” says Dave Trainor.
“There is a very vibrant aviation industry on PEI. Over 1,000 people work directly in the industry. We have competitors all over the world. Our advantage is that we have a very dedicated workforce that is very acceptable to change, progress, and six sigma and lean manufacturing, which makes us more efficient and productive.
“We need to focus on education to develop our workforce. We need to make sure that we are producing the highest skill levels, and encourage people to further their education in the areas we see as growing on PEI. We should encourage them to go to an educational institution on PEI to help create that workforce we need to grow.”
For more about Action Aero, visit www.actionaero.com.
Thinking Big Technology
Thinking Big Technology is an Information Technology consulting and software development firm based in Charlottetown, PEI with 45 full-time employees working directly with clients on a daily basis. This work keeps their team exposed to the leading edge of new technologies, and they bring that knowledge and experience to their clients through the consulting services provided to support their online digital needs with current and emerging technologies.
“The company has grown significantly since we started in 2006,” says Devin Bruce. “It was always a bit of a challenge to recruit for consulting services, as certain experience levels are required. But recently, renewing our focus on product development and innovation has provided an opportunity to increase recruitment and training for our company.
“There are two great training institutions here for IT. The majority of the graduates we hire are from PEI. But further emphasis can be put on promoting those institutions as technology centres of excellence to attract bright young minds to PEI from across the country and the world. It will also expose Islanders to the tech scene and increase the pool of skilled professionals here.”
For more about Thinking Big, visit www.thinkingbig.net.
Amber James is developing Gradpeek, a platform that connects students and recent graduates with employers. She will be graduating in May from the Business Administration and Co-operative Education programs at UPEI.
“My outlook after graduation is absolutely positive,” says Amber. “PEI businesses, including Gradpeek, are really fortunate to have access to funding programs through ACOA, Innovation PEI, and SkillsPEI.
“In our case, the funding has given me a bridge to get a minimum viable product to approach employers with.
“Other small businesses can also be optimistic their funding gaps can be bridged with support from our governments.
“Through entrepreneurship, we can create opportunities for ourselves and create jobs for others. Many graduates expect to work in government or for another company, and rather than settling for under employment, they think they have to leave. I think that is a vision we can change.”
“Governments should continue to encourage entrepreneurship through avenues such as mentorship, to see how we can support each other to support or economy.”
For more about Gradpeek, visit www.gradpeek.com.