Smaller communication tech firms lead job growth

B.C. employment down by an average of 4.3% over five years for the sector’s top companies

Employment at the province’s largest communication technology companies has dipped, according to data from Business in Vancouver’s list of the biggest communication technology firms in B.C. (page 13). 

Of the 12 companies that were on the list in 2019 and 2015, only four reported an increase in their employee base over the five-year period; the rest had either a decline in staff or no change.

The 12 companies, on average, showed a drop in employment of 4.3% over the five-year period. Staff numbers decreased for the three largest players: Telus (TSX:T), Shaw Communications (TSX, NYSE:SJR) and Bell Canada (TSX, NYSE:BCE). 

No. 2 Shaw and No. 3 Bell had the second- and third-biggest percentage declines in local employment. 

Shaw dropped 31.9% to 3,500 employees in 2019 from 5,140 employees in 2015. Bell was down 30.8%, to 1,800 employees in 2019 from 2,600 in 2015. 

At No. 9, Norsat International Inc. (TSX:NII; NYSE:NSAT) boasted the largest growth in employee numbers. 

Its employee count increased 52.6% to 87 in 2019 compared with 57 in 2015. 

engineering chart

Over the past five years, the median growth rate for companies on BIV’s list has been double that of the average growth rate, suggesting that smaller companies lower on the list grew faster than their larger counterparts higher on the list. 

This is highlighted by the employment growth at Norsat and No.12 Novus compared with the declines at larger companies like Bell and Shaw. 

Rogers Communications (TSX,NYSE:RCI) was the only company in the top five whose local employee base increased. It grew by 4.4% to 1,670 employees in 2019 from 1,600 in 2015.