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Innovation, Digital Transformation, and Education to Drive Rural Alberta’s Digital Economy: New Report

Ottawa, October 5, 2023—Alberta’s rural employers are committed to innovation, growth, and digital transformation to compete with urban employers in attracting and retaining workers as digital technologies increasingly permeate sectors like agriculture, energy, and manufacturing.

Digital technologies have become increasingly important to the Alberta economy in recent years, with noticeable growth in the number of software, energy technology, and clean technology companies. Most of this activity has been in the province’s two largest cities. But rural communities are also essential to Alberta’s economy, attracting 41% of the public and private investment in the province and producing 26% of the province’s GDP. Moreover, rural employers face talent shortages due to senior-level rural worker retirements, rural youth and skilled talent migration to urban centres, and a lack of local digital skills training, among other factors.

ICTC’s latest report, Seeding Rural Innovation: Nurturing the Tech Frontier in Alberta, discusses digital economy opportunities and trends in the context of rural Alberta. This comprehensive report includes a rural employer survey and key informant interviews. It explores rural demographic trends, key industries, the state of digitization, and forward-looking insights into how technology might shape rural Alberta in the coming years.

The report also highlights:

  • Rural Alberta’s unique value propositions, work-life balance, cost of living
  • Opportunities for growth, digital adoption, remote work, local education, rural/urban collaboration
  • Strategies to build a rural talent pipeline, attracting newcomers to Canada and women
  • Strategies to retain talent, retain institutional knowledge and preserve domain knowledge, upskilling current workers with in-demand skills

“Rural communities are key to a strong, diversified, and innovative Alberta economy. Many rural employers see technology as a means to improve productivity, boost efficiency, and eventually evolve their businesses, but the shortage of skilled talent—namely at junior and senior levels—is a top barrier for both technology implementation and operation. Upskilling current workers with operational technology skills is essential to advancing digital transformation in rural communities today, and local digital skills training is crucial to retaining youth and spearheading future opportunities.” —Alexandra Cutean, Chief Research Officer, ICTC

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is a neutral, not-for-profit national center of expertise with the mission of strengthening Canada’s digital advantage in the global economy. For over 30 years, and with a team of 110 experts, we have delivered forward-looking research, practical policy advice, and capacity-building solutions for individuals and businesses. The organization’s goal is to ensure that technology is utilized to drive economic growth and innovation and that Canada’s workforce remains competitive on a global scale.

To arrange an interview on this study or other media inquiries, please contact Paul Stastny at [email protected] or 403.351.0138 Ext. 823.

The province of Alberta is working in partnership with the Government of Canada to provide employment support programs and services.

About ICTC

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is a not-for-profit, national centre of expertise for strengthening Canada’s digital advantage in a global economy. Through trusted research, practical policy advice, and creative capacity-building programs, ICTC has empowered a robust and inclusive digital economy for over 25 years.



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