Some 250 game firms hire 14,000 industry pros across the nation, study says

Canada â??overtakes UK industry workforce tallyâ??

Canada has become the world’s third-largest employer of game industry professionals, new data suggests.

If accurate, the new research paper concludes that Canada now has over 14,000 industry workers, and has thus overtaken the UK’s workforce count.

The report, released by the Electronic Software Association of Canada, says that the nation’s mass of industry professionals is directly employed by over 240 Canadian game firms.

In terms of global workforce rankings, that would suggest Canada sits in third, just behind Japan and the US.

The report comes despite a significant regional staff loss what was once a Canadian stronghold; British Colombia.

In the past 18 months, employment in the region has fallen dramatically. So much so that in February, the British Colombia Government announced a region-specific game tax break plan as a means to rescue the struggling zone.

It is thought, however, that British Colombia’s talent loss did not result in a notable drop on a national level, and was more suggestive of an internal swing in workforce – with companies turning their attentions to tax-break-heavy regions such as Quebec and Ontario.

Recently, the MD of Ubisoft Vancouver told Develop that the province was losing its staff and studios to Canada’s Ontario and Quebec provinces.

It is these two regions that are undoubtedly driving growth for the entire nation.

The region is increasingly looking less attractive than its neighbours. In July last year, Ubisoft announced it was investing over $473 million in building a new studio in Canada, claiming it will create 800 new jobs over the next 10 years.

The studio was chosen to be in Toronto, Ontario.

Likewise, THQ recently announced it was going to open a new studio in Canada, set to create 400 new jobs and expand to include all sorts of disciplines including design, engineering, art, content and technology development, quality assurance and localisation.

That studio was chosen to be in Montreal, Quebec.

"We have to start looking at intellectual-property industries like the video-game industry as really significant and important to the future of our country," said Danielle Parr, executive director of the ESAC.

"We are not going to be successful unless people really understand that this industry is important, it’s growing and it’s valuable to Canada."

ESAC projections suggest that the number of Canadian developers is set to boom, with Canadian video-game developers suggesting they will add “as many as 29 per cent more” employees by 2011.

"Talent really is the most important ingredient," added Parr. "Without talent, all of the tax incentives in the world aren’t going to help."

The UK is likely to implement is own tax break policies from the 2011-12 fiscal year. Though seen by many as coming too late in the game, it could possibly rescue the UK’s sinking workforce in the long-term.

David Braben recently issued a stark warning on the future of the UK game industry, suggesting it was “looking very likely that this year [Britain] will be sixth in the world,” referring to the international game development league [measured by market value].

“The number of people studying computer science in the UK has fallen dramatically,” he added, presenting a slide which showed a deep decline in computer science enrolment since 2001.

Go here for a shortcut to Develop’s Canada reportage

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